It turns out that the subcontractor overseeing the work on a West 37th Street construction project where a worker was killed in September has a history of safety code violations. The hotel construction site is at 326 West 37th Street in Manhattan.
The New York lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy maintain a close relationship with the construction industry. The shared bond has been formed over many years and is a result of different factors, such as our willingness to fight for construction workers and their families. The firm has achieved great results on behalf of workers who have been injured in accidents. We also make it a point to follow developing stories in the construction industry, often highlighting the dangers of this work so that efforts at weakening worker safety laws are exposed. Worker safety remains a critical issue in New York State and beyond. Attacks on worker safety laws are still a threat to hardworking men and women and their families. That brings us to a frightening work-related accident that recently occurred in the Mineola section of Long Island today. The details are below.
Emergency personnel raced to the scene of a construction site in Mineola this morning. They were responding to a report that two construction workers were trapped underneath the rubble after a large portion of a ceiling collapsed on top of them. The ceiling piece was estimated to be a 30 by 50 foot piece of concrete. It also had wire racks attached to it. At the time of the accident, the building was being prepared for asbestos abatement. There were approximately 20 workers on the site and these two were unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their bodies were covered in rubble and debris and the emergency workers spent hours trying to dig them out. The other workers were not injured.
The New York City Department of Buildings releases statistics every month about construction accidents that occur in the city. The most recent month available, April 2014, shows both raw numbers of accidents and compares those numbers to the previous year, 2013.
The attorneys at the noted Manhattan law firm of Block O'Toole & Murphy have a wealth of experience in fighting for victims injured in scaffold accidents. When a scaffold collapses, usually the consequences are noteworthy and severe.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun an investigation into the death of two construction workers in Boonton, New Jersey, about 35 miles west of New York City.
Two men working on a landscaping crew died when a large hole collapsed on top of them. Although the landscaping company, Bednar Landscape Services, Inc., has no safety violations listed in the OSHA database, an agency spokesperson said the “Trenching deaths caused by cave-ins are completely preventable.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation into Wednesday's trench collapse in Boonton, New Jersey that killed two construction workers.
One worker was caught in the 10-foot hole when it collapsed, and another jumped in to save him. Neither was able to escape.
Construction workers face dangers on a daily basis. Their work often leads to deadly consequences. Still, yesterday, a few construction workers who were digging a trench for a gas pipeline made a ghastly discovery that would make even the most hardened construction worker white in the face. The workers, while digging, came across human bones. This all unfolded in the front yard of a residence only steps away from PS 90 in Queens.
In our previous blog post, we reported on the findings of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2013. This post continues that story.
Occupations With Reduced Fatality Rates
The fundamental point of the report is that fatal occupational injuries are declining. In certain occupations, this is particularly pronounced. In construction, for example construction trades workers, construction laborers both in 2013. The numbers for construction trades workers were particularly encouraging: Since 2006, the number of fatalities in this group has declined by 42 percent, and lower by five percent of 2012.
In transportation and materials moving occupations, fatal work injuries were five percent lower. The improvement was particularly seen among sales workers and truck drivers. However, the report noted that these numbers were expected to rise when final statistics are calculated (the current report is preliminary).
Farming, fishing and forestry occupations saw a decline of 13 percent in work fatalities. The most significant drop was among agricultural workers; there were 19 percent fewer deaths than in 2012.
The preliminary results of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2013 were released last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics., a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The report contained mostly good news: Fatal work injuries were down in 2013 from 2012 by six percent in private industry.
The Good News About Workplace Safety
The 3,929 private industry workplace deaths represent the lowest number of such fatalities since the census began in 1992. Other good news: The number of fatal work injuries involving workers under age 16 was down significantly, falling from 19 in 2012 to 5 in 2013. This is also the lowest number ever reported. Self-employed worker injuries were also down significantly, from 1,057 in 2012 to 892 in 2013.
Readers of this blog know that serious physical injuries from falls are a major cause of injures among construction workers. Other common causes of injury include equipment failure, being hit by swinging booms and falling building materials, and being buried in shoring accidents. We seldom write about the non-physical injuries suffered by construction workers. However, a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and published in 2013 revealed that construction workers also suffer from a variety of job-related mental and emotional illnesses that increase their risk of physical injury.
Construction work is widely known as a dangerous profession. Most associate the risks of construction work with people laboring at great heights. Few people recognize this reality: As many as 40% of fatal construction falls happen at 15 feet or lower. In fact, more than 5% of fatal construction falls happen at 6 feet or lower. Falls from lower heights can still have steep consequences.
These statistics surprise many people. 6 Feet? You can catch yourself with ease after falling from a mere 6 feet, can't you? Well think about what catching yourself while falling really entails. The average person's reaction time in the best of circumstances is one-half a second - - often much slower. Many experts will offer opinions that reaction time is higher but we will use the conservative half-second for illustrative purposes. In that half-second time period a person falls 4 feet. As you are falling, science kicks in. Gravity pulls you down and your speed quickly Increases as you descend. That means your impact force increases too. And, once you start falling, you will stop only when you hit a lower surface. Still think you can catch yourself? A person who weighs about 200 pounds and falls just 6 feet will hit the ground with almost 10,000 pounds of force. Think about that - - - 10,000 pounds! If you try and catch yourself under those circumstances, what are the chances you won't seriously injure yourself? They aren't very good. Obviously the force of the impact increases exponentially when you are falling from a greater height. Still, too many skeptics dismiss the force a person's body endures when falling from 6 feet or less. They also are cynical when a person claims they could not catch themselves or safely break their fall. The people harboring these opinions are, frankly, naïve. These misperceptions lead to employers and contractors acting lackadaisically when it comes to safety for workers that are laboring at lower heights, a mistake which leads to serious consequences.