Several hundred people marched from City Hall Park to the United Nations in New York City as part of the recent World Day of Remembrance to honor those killed or injured in traffic crashes. The timing of the event coincided with an alarming spike in traffic fatalities in the city. The march and the 13 pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities highlighted issues around the Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic deaths among pedestrians and cyclists.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency charged with keeping workers safe. One of the ways OSHA does this is by providing classes in workplace safety, which many industries require of new hires.
OSHA safety training is required for workers in the New York City construction industry; the agency issues cards certifying that a worker has completed the training. The goal of this training is to reduce injuries and deaths at worksites.
On November 18th at 11:30 a.m., an MTA worker was lowering electrical cables down a sidewalk shaft at the corner of Fulton and Downing Streets in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. While doing so, he reportedly fell to the bottom of the shaft, a distance of 20 to 30 feet. The worker was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he was last reported to be in serious condition.
As New York construction accident lawyers, we are all too familiar with the dangers associated with working around fall hazards like shafts, holes and trenches. Being exposed to a potential fall of 20 to 30 feet, as this MTA worker was, measures should have been taken to protect him.
What kind of measures? Fall protection devices that will prevent such a precipitous drop are mandatory at all job sites requiring workers to work at elevated heights such as this. But all too often, fall protection is woefully lacking on work sites. In a situation like this one, for example, it is likely that the fall could have been prevented by the use of a simple harness and life line, tied to a stable anchorage point at sidewalk level. One of the very real questions that people should be asking: If fall protection is not embraced at big government jobs like an MTA site, what are the safety conditions at the mom and pop job sites? The answer is not difficult to discern. Safety is often ignored at the smaller, less visible jobs. Safety is even sometimes secondary at bigger, more prominent jobs. Construction accidents continue to increase at an unprecedented rate in 2015 - - and the failure to observe basic safety principles is a big reason why.
Here's a hypothetical situation for you: one day you go into work, prepared to face the day just like all the others before it. For hours, your work day is routine. Everything is going swimmingly, until all of a sudden, a work accident occurs and you're at the center of it.
The specifics don't matter too much for this hypothetical scenario. Maybe some boxes fell on you, or another employee failed to operate some equipment in a safe and proper manner. The end result is what matters most: you are injured and you won't be able to work for quite some time.
Tragedy was avoided this afternoon in midtown Manhattan after two workers had to be rescued after their scaffold became stuck in mid-air. The workers were helplessly hanging over midtown Manhattan, uncertain of their fate, after their movable scaffold lost power while they were suspended 22 stories above the unforgiving concrete jungle.
Members of the FDNY saved the day. They completed the daring rescue by retrieving the workers after cutting through the plate glass window on the 22nd floor of the 30-floor building. Wary New Yorkers roared with approval, some, perhaps, knowing that another construction worker was killed the day before in a senseless Staten Island construction roofing accident.
It is no secret that the number of construction accidents and resulting fatalities have soared in 2015. This story concludes with a happy ending.
This blog has frequently reported on construction worker fatalities, discussing the increase from 2014 to 2015 and evaluating the different theories about reasons for the increase. However, we have not discussed the injuries that were reported to the Department of Buildings this year. This post will attempt to remedy that oversight.
It appears to be open season on pedestrians in New York City. Eleven people died after being hit by motor vehicles in a 10-day period between Oct. 31 and Nov. 9. Although these numbers are bad, they really are not that unusual. Someone is killed while walking or biking in New York City about once every 36 hours on average. Dozens of people are injured every day.
A woman was listed in stable condition after she fell down an elevator shaft at the Grant Hyatt in New York City. The woman fell six feet and suffered injuries as a result of the fall. It is unclear at this time why the elevator shaft was open and why there was no elevator booth there to save the woman from that fall. An investigation into the incident will certainly turn up some answers.
In the meantime, it is clear that something went wrong here. Whether the elevator itself failed or hotel staff failed is yet to be determined, it seems likely that negligence or a mistake occurred that caused the woman to fall down the elevator shaft -- and yet, we won't know for sure until more concrete information comes out about this accident.
The reaction to construction worker Christina Ginesi's fatal work accident perfectly illuminates the problems within The Department of Buildings in New York City. Ginesi, you may remember, fell more than 20 stories while working on an elevator during a job at a hotel in Manhattan. His death sparked a fair amount of media coverage and led to an investigation into the entities responsible for safety at the site. We hope his family and friends continue to be strong and cope with this terrible tragedy.
Sadly, they are reading this morning about one of the players at the job site where Mr. Genesi was killed. It must be very troubling to them to learn that one of the companies responsible for safety had a long-standing and shoddy record of protecting workers.
Most employees in the United States are entitled to workers' compensation should they suffer a medical illness or injury as a result of their job. This compensation is great not just for financial support, but also for providing emotional and mental relief. It would be easy for someone to be stressed and scared about their well-being after a work accident or incident if they had no income. For the most part, workers' comp solves this.
But compensation isn't the only benefit of this system. Workers' comp can also help a worker when they return to work, giving them numerous benefits to adjust to their new post-incident life.