Representing Injured Tunnel Workers Throughout New York State

The lifeblood of New York City is the complex network of tunnels and subways which connect the city. The men and women who work in these tunnels, commonly called "sandhogs," perform dangerous work in order to keep these transit systems in working order.

The dangerous nature of tunnel work requires both workers and employers to remain vigilant about workplace safety. When employers and contractors fail to do so, innocent workers may be subject to tunnel accidents which cause catastrophic injuries such as back injuries, broken bones and brain damage.

At Block O'Toole & Murphy, we have extensive experience helping injured workers recover full and fair compensation for their losses. We are a premier personal injury law firm with an outstanding reputation for successfully representing the victims of tunnel accidents and other construction site injuries. Our attorneys have advocated on behalf of numerous union workers, journeymen, day laborers and other injured individuals, recovering more than $1 billion* for our clients.

Common Hazards Facing Tunnel Workers

A workplace injury is not always the result of a traumatic event like a fall or tunnel collapse. Sometimes gradual injuries and illnesses are just as devastating as more dramatic accidents. One of the most common injuries among sandhogs is occupational lung illness. Drilling into rock beds and sandstone releases silica dust into the air, where it is inhaled by workers. This can cause silicosis, which affects breathing and lung function. Over time, this can cause difficulty breathing, lung scarring or tuberculosis.

Other dangerous conditions that frequently affect tunnel workers include:

  • Falls from construction equipment or into exposed shafts
  • Burns or electrical injuries from exposure to electrical lines
  • Burns or suffocation caused by exposure to harmful gas
  • Falling equipment such as cranes, scaffolding or ladders
  • Leaks and floods
  • Tunnel wall, ceiling or floor collapse

No matter what type of injury you have sustained as a tunnel worker, it is essential that you work with experienced attorneys. At Block O'Toole & Murphy, we will investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident, preserve and gather all relevant evidence, communicate with the employer or insurer on your behalf, and advocate for you in all communication and hearings. We will not stop fighting for you until justice is served.

Failure to Comply with Safety Regulations

Because tunnel work is so dangerous, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific regulations in place governing the construction of underground tunnels, chambers, shafts and passageways. These regulations are meant to prevent dangerous accidents and protect the safety of tunnel workers. OSHA regulations address a number of important issues, including:

  • Safety instruction for all employees
  • Access and egress to and from work stations
  • Check-in and check-out procedures for tunnel workers
  • Air monitoring of oxygen levels, hydrogen sulfide and other gases
  • Ventilation and illumination of work sites
  • Fire prevention and control
  • Provisions for cranes and hoists
  • Rescue teams for emergency response

When construction companies, general contractors, construction site supervisors or other responsible parties fail to comply with the appropriate standards in tunnel construction, injured tunnel workers may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party.

Does the Scaffold Law Apply to Tunnel Accidents?

New York Labor Law Section 240 is often used in tunnel injury claims. While this statute is commonly known as the "Scaffold Law" because it governs the use of scaffolds, it is not limited to above-ground structures. Tunnel workers use similar equipment to their peers on the surface, and it is possible to hold their employers accountable using the same laws. If the employer of tunnel workers fails to provide appropriate safety equipment and a worker is injured or killed as a result, the employer is responsible for the workers' injuries and financial damages.

Case Result: $12 Million for an Injured Tunnel Worker

Our firm has had significant successes bringing cases on behalf of people injured in subway tunnels. In one notable case, we represented a 45-year-old union tunnel worker who was hurt on the job. When a co-worker's personnel lifting cage ("man basket") began to sway in the air, our client crossed a protective railing and attempted to grab and stabilize the cage. He was pulled over the open area of the runnel and fell 40 feet, causing him severe orthopedic and neurological injuries that prevented him from returning to work.

The defense tried to argue that our client's own improper rigging and unsafe behavior led to the accident. However, while our attorneys were preparing to file a motion for summary judgment based on New York Labor Law Section 240, the parties reached a settlement in private mediation. We secured a $12 million settlement for our client's injuries.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Construction and tunnel workers work hard to build this city. At Block O'Toole & Murphy, our attorneys are committed to working just as hard to pursue justice for those who have been hurt on the job. We also represent the families of workers who have lost their lives in workplace accidents.

If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a tunnel accident, we encourage you to contact us for a FREE case evaluation from the experienced construction site injury attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy today. Call us at 212-736-5300, or contact us online. We will help you understand and explore all your options for pursuing justice and compensation for your injuries.

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*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.