On behalf of Smiley & Smiley, LLP posted in Construction Accidents on Friday, December 4, 2015.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that seven workers have died on New York City construction projects since July. In the 12 months prior to July, there were 10 deaths of workers at construction sites. There was also an increase of 53 percent in injuries to workers during that one-year period. Reports also indicate that the injuries and deaths are falling disproportionately onto immigrants.
Part of the cause is that there is a construction boom taking place in New York City right now. With the increased activity and volume of jobs, it is reasonable to expect an increase in injuries and fatalities. However, the rate of increased construction is outstripped by the higher rate of increased deaths and injuries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national rate of Latino construction worker fatalities from 2010 through 2013 increased disproportionately to their population of the total industry. Immigrants are often in a situation where their illegal status prevents them from demanding safe working conditions. Additionally, non-union sites are reportedly demonstrably lacking in safety precautions in comparison to the sites using union labor.
An expose in the New York Times recently revealed that rogue contractors engage in various deceptive procedures to continue working under inexpensive and unsafe work conditions. City officials have begun a task force to crack down on the massive cheating on safety requirements at construction sites. Additionally, OSHA penalties are set to soon increase up to 80 percent due to an adjustment to the Consumer Price Index.
One effective and powerful way to increase the push for safety is for injured workers and the families of deceased ones to file civil claims in state court asking for damages owed by employers, contractors, subcontractors and possibly others. Workers' compensation claims can be made by some workers, but private lawsuits for pain and suffering and additional damages are allowed in certain circumstances. Due to the complexity of the laws on the issue of workers' private tort claims, the question will be most effectively evaluated by an experienced construction litigation attorney.
Source: constructiondive.com, "NYT report: Rise in NYC construction worker deaths disproportionately affecting immigrants", Kim Slowey, Nov. 30, 2015
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