Arye, Lustig & Sassower, P.C.

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Manhattan construction worker killed; debate over safety law heats up

Few of us have achieved all we wanted to get done, been to all the places we've wanted to visit or acquired all the knowledge we sought by the time we're 22 years old. It is tragic when life is cut short at that age.

New York City media reports that a 22-year-old worker died when he fell down an elevator shaft at a Manhattan construction site. The Yonkers man was working at a 52-story building being erected at 281 Fifth Avenue, officials said. The tower is scheduled for completion in two years, NBC reports.

A difficult choice to make
The TV station says in a separate, related report that New York construction workers are being asked to choose between safety and their livelihoods. A Channel 4 reporter says 36 city construction workers have died in the past two years, pushing families and friends of the deceased, along with many other concerned residents, to press hard for tougher safety regulations.

A new proposal would require 59 hours of training per construction worker (up from the current 10), the station reports, but is facing stiff opposition by some workers -- and the Real Estate Board of New York, which is funding an ad campaign. A spokesperson for the Real Estate Board said the legislation will put thousands of construction workers out of their jobs. Safety advocates counter that training saves lives.

"It's that simple," said a spokesperson for the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.

Protecting workers’ rights
We don't know if this measure will be approved or not, but we do know that there is too often little concern for injured construction workers.

Many workers who have been injured may be entitled to assert a third-party claim for money damages, which is in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. Injured construction workers and their families should contact an experienced construction injury attorney to learn about their rights.

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