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New York City Worker Injury Blog

Employees Who Report Workplace Safety Violations Protected

Employees who report violations of safety and labor laws are protected under a variety of whistleblower laws. These federal laws are enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and are designed to prevent employers from retaliating against employees.

The Whistleblower Protection Laws cover employees who report any type of workplace safety violations, including those in the airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities industries. 

Work Injuries Common Among Hotel Maids and Housekeepers

Few people think about the housekeepers and maids in New York City hotels. That is reflected by the fact that 31 percent do not leave tips for housekeepers and maids. These workers are often invisible.

Yet, according to an article in USA Today, not only do these workers receive uncertain tips and low wages, on average around $21,800 per year, but they are also exposed to significant on-the-job hazards. For example, those eco-friendly housekeeping options that allow guests to reuse sheets and towels without washing for one or more days and forgo room cleaning, may be good for the environment, but they are hard on housekeepers. A room that is dirtier because it hasn't been cleaned for several is going to be harder to clean and requires the worker to work faster. This makes him or her more subject to injury --  hotel workers don't get any extra time for a room that has not been cleaned for a while. 

OSHA Issues Workplace Safety Instructions for Black Friday

On Black Friday 2008, the day after Thanksgiving, an employee of a Wal Mart store on Long Island was trampled to death as an angry mob broke into the store and trampled the worker. With other employees he had been trying to keep customers out until the official opening time, 5:00 AM, but at 4:55 AM, the crowd broke down the door.

There have been other incidents in the years since, and regulators and lawmakers have tried to require retailers to make things safer for employees as well as frenzied shoppers.  This year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a press release listing tips for retailers trying to protect their workers. Titled Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers, the fact sheet included steps retailers should take to protect workers during major sales events, such as Black Friday.  In addition to issuing the fact sheet, OSHA sent letters to major retailers reminding them of their responsibilities to protect employees. 

Firefighting: Still A Dangerous Job, Despite Improvements

Fighting fires is a very dangerous occupation.  Injury and death can be the result of smoke inhalation, serious burns, falling beams and chemical poisoning, to name but a few of the risks that firefighters face every day. But it turns out that the majority of firefighter deaths are the result of heart attacks and traffic accidents.  And these causes may in turn be caused by sleep disorders, according to a recent study.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that firefighters with sleep disorders were more likely – almost twice as likely – to experience motor vehicle accidents, fall asleep while driving and suffer from cardiovascular disease or diabetes. They were far more likely to be clinically depressed or anxious.

Are sleep problems among firefighters the consequence of the type of work schedules typical among firefighters? They are frequently scheduled for 24 hour shifts, with 48 hours off after each shift worked.  Although it may be possible to rest or sleep during the 24 hour shifts, no firefighter plans on this. 

Even With Workplace Safety Precautions, Window Washing is Dangerous

Even with the best workplace safety precautions, window washing is a dangerous job in New York City. Workers are on platforms high above the street. Any malfunction in equipment can send a window washer plummeting to the ground or stuck many stories above the street.  There are many near misses, as the two workers trapped on a scaffold high above the street at One World Trade Center can attest. 

Injuries to window washers happen anywhere there are tall buildings. Just last week, a worker in Abu Dhabi was rescued by a drone near the 10th floor of a high rise building. The drone showed the worker how to fix the stuck scaffolding, allowing him to descend on his own.

A window washer in suburban Deerfield, Illinois, fell into a shaft and had to be lifted out in a basket. That incident is under investigation by the Chicago office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Last April, a worker fell six stories while washing windows at a new building in Northwest Washington, D.C., near a Metro station. Last year, a window washer in Knoxville was thrown from a lift, falling 60 feet to the ground. He later died.

Fatal Workplace Accident at Staten Island Country Club

The New York City attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy continued to monitor stories related to worker safety throughout the metropolitan area and beyond. This week, another fatal workplace accident took place here New York City. It happened at a Staten Island country club and we have the details here.

Long Island Excavation Accident Kills Construction Worker

A man was killed in a Long Island construction accident when a concrete wall collapsed onto him. According to Huntington Manor fire officials, the man was apparently excavating an area behind the foundation of a house, intending to install a basement entrance.

The 47-year-old man who was killed owned his own construction company, although it was not clear whether he was licensed.  There was apparently no permit issued for the work, and the owner of the home could receive a summons.

The crew included two other men, who were not hurt in the collapse. 

Window Washers Trapped on Dangling Scaffold Are Rescued

Block O'Toole & Murphy is pleased to bring you an update on the harrowing scene in lower Manhattan where two window washers were trapped on a scaffold towering above the hallowed grounds of the World Trade Center site. This scaffold was dangling, nearly upside down with the 2 workers holding on for dear life.

Ladder Accident Prevention Requires Workplace Safety Training

The most common types of ladder accidents are those in which the wrong type of ladder is used, ladders fall or collapse because they are in poor condition, and accidents in which the ladder is not used correctly.

Ladder Accidents Caused by Incorrect Use

The Bureau of Labor Statistics studied 1,4000 U.S. ladder accidents and provided more detail about the causes related to incorrect use. Some of the causes relate to training and general safety procedures and include:

  • Holding objects while climbing the ladder (57 percent)
  • Having wet or oily shoes (30 percent)
  • Failing to use braces at the top or bottom (60/53 percent)
  • Failing to train employees in ladder inspection (66 percent)
  • Failing to provide information about safe ladder use