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March 2014 Archives

Construction Workers Injured in Ladder Accidents Protected by Court Decision

The New York lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy carefully review all of the legal decisions that impact the hard-working women and men in the construction industry. The construction laws in New York are designed to protect workers and promote a safe working environment. They place the responsibility for safety on the shoulders of those best able to control the workplace - - the property owners and general contractors. The law requires owners and general contractors to provide appropriate safety devices that will allow workers to complete their jobs in a safe manner. If they fail to comply with the laws, they are responsible for a serious injury or death that a construction worker sustains. While the law sounds simple enough, the decisions are often confounding.

Scaffold Law Helps Prevent Construction Accidents and Keep Workers Safe

The New York lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy have been paying attention to the ongoing dialogue on New York's Scaffold Law. New York's Scaffold Law has been instrumental in assuring that construction workers are provided a safe place to work for more than a century. The law places the responsibility on the building owners and general contractors at a construction site to make sure that workers have the necessary safety tools and equipment to successfully and safely perform their work. If the building owners and general contractors fail to comply with the safety requirements outlined in the law and that failure caused a construction worker to be injured or killed then they are legally responsible for the loss. What are we talking about? A roofer is compelled to work on a roof and is not given any fall protection by anyone at the job site. He falls 30 feet and is paralyzed as a result of the fall. The failure to provide the worker with the appropriate fall protection will likely trigger a finding that the parties in charge of safety at the job site are responsible for this workers injuries. Seems fair, no?

OSHA Fines DISH for Workplace Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined DISH Network because it blacklisted an employee who reported fraudulent billing. Even though the employee was trying to save the company money, he was blacklisted after reporting that a vendor was committing billing fraud.

Two Brooklyn Neighborhoods Have Most Traffic Deaths

The increasingly fashionable neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn had more traffic deaths than any other part of the city, according to data compiled by the blogger I Quant. Brooklyn officials responded with demands to Mayor de Blasio to start his Vision Zero program in that part of Brooklyn.

Building Collapse Injures Construction Workers

Although the accident occurred in Boston, it could have easily happened in any American city, including New York. Three workers suffered non-life-threatening injuries when a roof collapsed inside a 33-story residential building under construction. The building, at 45 Stuart Street in Boston's Downtown Crossing district, was scheduled for completion by mid-2015. It will have nearly 400 residential units and close to 200 parking spaces.

Most Alcohol-Related Car Accidents in Suffolk County

A New York City television station's investigative team found that there were more alcohol-related crashes in Long Island's Suffolk County than in any other county in New York State. Channel 4's I-Team examined records of car accidents from the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) in the years 2010 to 2012.

Legendary Lawyer Wants NY to Hold Reckless Drivers Accountable

The lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy have long been calling on New York to begin enforcing the laws in a meaningful way against reckless drivers. Far too often we have seen defenseless folks seriously injured or killed by a blatantly reckless driver only to see the driver walk away often without even a slap on the wrist. Now, Block O'Toole & Murphy has a powerful ally advocating for reckless drivers to be held responsible for their misconduct.

Famed Compstat System: Now Transforming New York's Court System

In the early 1990's, now legendary deceased New York City cop Jack Maple and police commissioner Bill Bratton began to develop the well-chronicled Compstat program. Compstat was a crime tracking program that was introduced during Bratton's first stint as New York City's top cop. It was widely hailed as one of the most significant factors in the city's unprecedented reduction in crime. The system employed computer technology to pinpoint high crime areas. The police department, in turn, would flush those areas with more officers, attacking the problem with a systemic approach. Compstat also largely depended on accountability. Commanding officers would be required to appear at intense meetings and explain why certain high crime areas remained that way. They were required to outline their crime fighting strategies in front of superior officers and defend any failures. The motivation to reduce crime was pervasive throughout the department and the system worked.

Passenger and Workplace Safety Secondary to On-Time Schedule, Says Metro North Report

Just days after a Metro North worker was killed in Manhattan, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a report to Congress about the safety of that railroad, the second-largest commuter line in the United States. Although the timing was coincidental, the report and the subsequent death of the railroad worker on March 14 underscored the safety problems of the railroad.

Gas Industry Must Confront Pipeline Safety Issues

The recent gas explosion that brought down two buildings in East Harlem highlights problems with the safety of the pipes that transport natural gas - a growing source of fuel throughout the United States. Even as the use of natural gas becomes even more widespread because of the development of shale gas, questions are being raised about the aging infrastructure that brings the gas to consumers. The gas lines connected to the two Harlem buildings were constructed in 1887.

Pedestrian Accidents Need Attention

A recent article in Crain's New York Business points out that the media have given much attention to the faulty ignitions in General Motors cars that have caused 11 deaths throughout the United States in the past decade. It asks why isn't there as much national coverage of the remarkable number of deaths and injuries caused by traffic accidents in New York City?

Fatal Traffic Accidents Studied by Joint Research Group

We overlooked a report on fatal pedestrian accidents in New York City that was released last spring. Titled "Pedestrian Fatalities in New York City 2009 - 2011: Preliminary Findings," much of the information is still applicable despite the data being at least three years old. A summary follows:

James Romansoff Killed as Metro-North Safety System Fails

James Romansoff, 58, of Yonkers was killed while working on the elevated Metro-North tracks on Park Avenue near 106th Street in Manhattan. The lawyers from Block O'Toole & Murphy covered this tragedy yesterday with a promise to follow-up as the investigation unfolds. Now, new information is emerging that a recently implemented safety system was supposed to be in place that would have prevented this fatal collision. Except, Metro-North seems to have apparently failed to follow protocol and now the family and friends of a hard-working man are left with a series of unsettling and troubling questions about why their loved one was killed.

Marisol Martinez, Struck and Killed by MTA Bus in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday March 1, 2014, a woman, later identified by police as Marisol Martinez, 21, was struck and killed by an MTA bus at the intersection of Meeker and Union Avenues in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. We profiled this tragedy earlier and now update you as the investigation unfolds.

Workplace Accidents Can Increase After Switch To Daylight Saving

New Yorkers and most everyone else in the United States switched to Daylight Savings Time early this past Sunday. This change gives more daylight in the evening making long summer days even longer. Daylight Saving Time was originally instituted during WWI, but has become common primarily in North America and Europe, but not world-wide.

Metro North: Another Deadly Mistake

The attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have not been shy about criticizing the MTA and Metro North Railroad as part of this blog in the past. After all, the commuter train operator has had many very public mistakes in recent times - - and we are not talking about scheduling mishaps. Rather, this agency has made life-altering and unacceptably dangerous decisions, decisions that have, at times, shaken the tri-state area to its core.

Data on NYC Bicycle Accidents Not Easy To Obtain or Analyze

This blog has reported before on the difficulty of obtaining usable traffic crash data from NYPD. However, there are several alternative sources. These are operated by private citizens who take the raw data from the PDF files released by the New York Police Department and turn them into interactive maps and other formats that allow viewers to quickly see the picture of NYC traffic accidents.

New York City Police Still Face On-The-Job Dangers, Despite Improvements

Although this blog frequently reports on the dangers faced by New York City construction workers, other jobs in New York are also dangerous. Take, for example, the hazards faced by police officers every day. Already in 2014, one officer has been shot in the legs and another dragged hundreds of feet by an ATV - and those are just the most recent incidences of job-related violence that causes injury and death to New York's finest. They are also the most common causes of injuries and fatalities -- gunshots and motor vehicles.

Workplace Safety Still Elusive Despite Improvements on Construction Sites

Despite the best efforts of businesses and labor unions, construction work is still a very dangerous occupation. There are, on average, two fatalities each day on construction sites across the United States. The cost to the economy of construction accidents is staggering.

Brooklyn Building Collapse: Questions Surfacing About Safety of the Construction Project

The Brooklyn lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy continue to follow a very serious construction accident - - a building collapse - - that took place in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn yesterday.

Another Fatal Pedestrian Accident in Brooklyn

Another fatal pedestrian accident, this one involving a bus, took the life of a Brooklyn pedestrian over the weekend. The victim a 21-year-old woman, was crossing the street at Union and Meecker avenues around 1:30 AM on Saturday when she was struck by an MTA Q59 bus. The bus route runs from Rego Park, Queens and the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn.