With New York City's construction boom continuing to change the urban landscape and keep developers in the black, dozens of workers died on the job in 2017. While many construction accidents occur in warmer weather when more workers are outside, winter brings its own set of hazards, not just in the five boroughs. One deadly fall occurred in nearby Philadelphia in late November while another worker was killed north of Pittsburgh while raising traffic poles in late December.
Does the law provide construction workers with special safety protections in colder weather? Are workers properly trained for the complex set of challenges they may face when temperatures drop? What rights do injured workers and their families have when a serious accident has occurred? While these important questions can't be adequately answered in a blog, here is some food for thought.
Considerations in cold weather
According to the trade publication EHS Today, certain winter safety considerations are applicable in many industries, including construction:
- Slip, trip and fall dangers are amplified with snowy and icy conditions. Basics like proper footwear are essential.
- It is essential to provide proper lighting, debris-free areas and fully functional equipment for workers. Many duties and tasks may need to be modified in the cold.
- Hypothermia and frostbite are serious safety concerns in winter.
- Scaffolds, ladders and other safety devices should be appropriate for the prevailing weather conditions.
According to statutes like New York's Scaffold Law, which applies to workers who do their jobs at heights, employers bear much responsibility for the safety of their employees.
Help for injured workers and their loved ones
What about when the unthinkable does occur? If you or a family member was hurt on a construction job, you have numerous legal rights. You may be entitled to money damages through a third-party claim, which is separate from workers' compensation.
An experienced construction accident injury attorney can help you understand and protect your rights. Since the law places time limits on many of these matters, it is important to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible.