Construction workers in New York and Illinois are better protected than workers in other states, according to a report by McClatchy DC that appeared in ProPublica. Why? According to the story, these two states have strict laws about misclassification of employees as independent contractors, a practice that dishonest construction companies use to underbid those who are paying state and federal taxes and insurance.
Injuries and illnesses affect bricklayers and masons more than the national average; this is true for most construction-related trades. Academic researchers and government agencies have identified conditions and circumstances more likely to result in on-the-job injury or illness.
Common Injuries Among Bricklayers
Common injuries include musculoskeletal injuries resulting from lifting heavy loads of bricks and other construction materials. The act of laying bricks requires bending, twisting and squatting. An average mason lays 1,000 bricks a day; the result can be significant repetitive motion strain. Suffering cuts, head injuries and broken bones from falling or being hit is another common injury.
When thinking about workplace injuries, most of us think about heavy labor jobs, such as construction or the back-breaking work of turning patients in health care facilities. The nail salon, found on almost every commercial block in New York City, has its own workplace hazards to the extent that the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) has issued factsheets and training guides in four languages. The goal of these publications is to alert nail salon employees to the hazards they face and inform them of their rights.
A worker's compensation judge recently ruled that a bus mechanic's exposure to exhaust from buses contributed to his death from lung cancer. This reflects growing attention to diesel smoke exposure on the job among public health and workplace safety advocates.
Growing attention to the problem has not always resulted in victories for injured workers and their families. In 2012, a Court of Appeals ruled against New York transit workers in a case brought against General Motors and other bus manufacturers. The plaintiffs argued that the manufacturers were liable for illnesses and fatalities because they failed to warn about the dangers of inhaling diesel fumes. Moreover, according to the lawsuit, the bus companies designed engines to circumvent emissions standards once the buses were in service.
One worker was killed and another injured when an SUV ran into their equipment at a construction zone on the Garden State Parkway. The SUV hit the work equipment that then struck the workers and a pickup truck.
One worker was pronounced dead at the scene. Two others were taken to local hospitals.
The incident illustrates the hazards that road construction workers face every day. Between 2007 and 2012, an average of 669 fatalities occurred each year in construction and maintenance work zones. The worst year for construction zone fatalities was 2003, when 1,095 workers and motorists died. In 2012, the number had declined to 609.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has a website devoted to preventing injuries and fatalities on construction sites. The site also provides information about the incidence of the causes of construction accidents.
For example, the site reports that falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. The leading causes of falls include unprotected sides, wall openings and floor holes; improper scaffold construction; unprotected protruding steel rebar; and improperly misused portable ladders.
Labor Day, often marked by taking the last trip to the beach, was actually created by the labor movement in the 19th century, dedicated to celebrating the social and economic achievements of American workers. Who was behind the movement to establish Labor Day is still contested more than 125 years after the first parade the United States, held in New York City in 1882.
Some say that the founder of Labor Day was Peter McGuire, while others say that a New Jersey machinist named Matthew Mcguire was the driving force. The weight of the evidence seems to point to Matthew Mcguire, who was secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York City when Labor Day was established. There is more information about the controversy on the Department of Labor’s web page.
Anyone who lives, visits or works in New York City knows that construction is booming. But looks can be deceiving, even to seasoned New Yorkers. Some statistics provided by the New York City Economic Development Commission tell the more nuanced story.
It turns out that construction is indeed booming when compared to 2013. The number of construction starts has increased by 21 percent, from 5,927 in 2013 to 7,143 in 2014. However, that number is still less than July 2004, before the economic downturn. This year’s number is still 12 percent smaller than the number of construction starts in the five boroughs in 2004 – 8,145.
The lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy are bringing you details about a recent construction accident that took place in the bowels of the Second Avenue subway tunnel project. The victim was rescued by firefighters after a harrowing and grueling rescue effort.
Did you know that hospitals are among the most dangerous places to work? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued a citation against Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in the New York borough of Brooklyn for failing to protect employees against physical attacks by patients and visitors. It found 40 instances of violence against employees between February and April of 2014.