On February 21, 2014, a worker was injured when he fell off of a scaffold at a construction site in Manhattan. The unidentified worker was injured because he was not afforded the proper safety equipment and was not trained at all. We hope the injured victim makes a strong recovery and our thoughts are with his loved ones during his this trying period.
The New York lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are following this accident because it illustrates the importance of using sound fundamental equipment, effective training and placing a premium on a safe work environment, including appropriate and safe fall protection devices. This jobsite has become a lightning rod for controversy because it seemingly has ignored the three principles mentioned above.
The job in question is the Stella Tower luxury condominium project located at 425-435 West 50th Street. Union workers and union representatives are now protesting at the site. The crux of their grievance is that non-union workers on this job don’t have the same safety training as their union counterparts and are therefore more apt to suffer on the job accidents. They also have articulated that non-union workers are too often forced to work in an unsafe environment without a strong voice to support them and advocate for safer conditions. This too, they point out, leads to more senseless accidents.
While there is no denying that safety training is essential in reducing construction site accidents, it is not the worker – union or non-union – who is ultimately responsible for job site safety. New York Labor Law rightly places the onus on building owners and general contractors to ensure that there are ample safety measures in place on the job site. Whether it is a question of scaffold construction, fall protection devices such as life lines and safety harnesses, properly functioning ladders, cranes and hoists, the covering of floor openings during construction, or even something as rudimentary as keeping the floor free of slipping and tripping hazards, the state’s construction laws hold the owner and general contractor responsible when a worker is injured.
These laws are essential to workers on every construction site in the state and they apply equally to union as well as non-union workers, irrespective of the individual worker’s previous safety training. The labor laws in the state of New York are the ultimate check on the developer’s efforts to maximize profit by minimalizing costs. In simplest terms, safety measures cost owners and builders time and money. To be abundantly clear, time and money cut into profits.
Safety can be costly because it requires that workers be provided with necessary equipment such and life lines and safety harnesses. It also requires that scaffolds be assembled by workers with the necessary know how to ensure that safety railings are present and the scaffold platforms and fully and properly planked out. Doing the job right takes a little longer and that translates to paying skilled and trained union workers and paying that workforce for the additional time it takes to set up the safety equipment. The longer the job takes the longer the owners must wait to realize the profits of selling the new luxury condominiums.
New construction and large scale renovations are great signs for the city’s economy. These projects employ tradesmen and laborers, allowing union and non-union workers the means to put food on their tables and build necessary security for their family. The completed projects attract businesses to new office space and homeowners to new luxury residences. Successful entrepreneurs invest huge sums into these projects and they stand to reap huge profits. The labor laws in the State of New York are designed to ensure that these profits don’t come at the expense of proper protections for the skilled workforce that make it possible.
If you or someone you know has been injured on a construction site and you believe that proper safety measures were not in place, you need to confer with attorneys who specialize in realizing maximum recoveries for injures workers. Block O’Toole & Murphy LLP is one of the premiere New York construction accident law firms. These gifted and committed lawyers have a long and proud history of helping injured workers, including well over $700,000,000 in verdicts and settlements for their seriously injured clients. They relish fighting on behalf of victims of construction accidents. You can learn more about these experienced trial lawyers by reviewing their firm website at www.blockotoole.com. For a free consultation, call them at 212-736-5300.