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NYC excavation workers at risk of dangerous exposures

Construction work in New York City can be extremely dangerous if construction site managers and employers fail to properly oversee the safety of a worksite. This negligence can mean that construction workers are left vulnerable to a workplace injury or illness. Most often, it is incidents of a crane collapse or falling debris that makes the headlines in New York City in relation to the harm of a construction worker. While those are significant causes of concern, so too is toxic exposure.

Toxic exposure less often makes headlines and may not be as immediately apparent, but exposure to hazardous debris, fumes and chemicals can make a worker incredibly ill. Over a dozen out-of-state workers were identified as having lead poisoning when they were excavating a worksite without being provided the proper materials to protect against inhalation of lead dust. Accordingly, they became seriously sick.

The dangers of lead are well known presently. However, lead was used in many paints in older buildings. When an old site is being excavated in New York City, it is imperative that the workers are properly trained on how to safely excavate a site with dangerous materials. Part of this includes the proper equipment to do so.

While the fatality rate of construction workers in general is higher than the average profession in New York City, excavation workers specifically are at an elevated risk for a fatal workplace accident. In fact, excavation workers are at a 112 percent higher risk than the average construction worker for perishing as a result of their profession.

Accordingly, there are regulations in place that must be followed. In the event that these regulations are broken to save costs or some other negligent reason, an ill or injured worker can seek recourse.

Source: HuffPost Green, "Inexcusable Exposure: Unprotected Workers, Toxic Lead at Gun Range," Lynne Peeples, Feb. 20, 2013

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