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Demonstrations Shine Light on Construction Safety Concern

The New York attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have long advocated for the rights of hard-working women and men in the construction industry. Often that involved explaining the import of the worker safety laws that are in place in New York State. Frequently it is centered on detailing the causes of construction and work-related accidents.

Today, a press release by New York City Council Member Benjamin J. Kallos highlights one of the major reasons that construction accidents are a problem that will not go away until an industry-wide practice is curbed. What practice? The practice of retaining construction companies with poor safety records and little to no training programs in place merely because they put in the lowest bid.

Breaking it down, what are we talking about here? Wealthy property owners and developers are hiring contractors with shoddy safety records that cost less money because it enables them to reap a more lucrative profit. Money is more important than worker safety when deciding what company is the right choice to man a project, if you scrutinize the actions of the wealthy owners and developers. Profits over worker safety.

Let's examine the details. Construction at Roosevelt Island has been ongoing for several years. Earlier on, six buildings were erected and completed. Significantly, the first six were not part of the city's Affordable Housing program. They were built by reputable contractors who paid a living wage with proper benefits and sound safety records. Mysteriously, the contractors for the first part of the project were not hired to complete the project.

RNC Industries was retained as a contractor for the second leg of the project on Roosevelt Island. This component of the project, contrary to the initial work, includes developing residential buildings for the city's Affordable Housing program. It is a fair assumption that the Affordable Housing plan will yield a lesser profit than the earlier work because the price points will be controlled so they are affordable to a larger segment of the population. So what happens? RNC is retained. Why is that a significant change?

Look at RNC's track record: They are paying employees sums of money that dip far below prevailing wage for the construction industry, not paying for employee health or disability benefits in case of work related injuries and, most importantly, they have a terrible safety record. Evidence of RNC's poor safety track record can be seen by examining recent OSHA findings.

They include:

  • OSHA punished RNC in 2007 after a worker fell 38 feet to his death;
  • OSHA punished RNC in 2009 as a result of unsafe practices at a worksite that led to a fall-related accident;
  • OSHA punished RNC in 2012 for unsafe practices at a worksite that led to a fall-related accident; and
  • OSHA punished RNC in 2013 for unsafe practices at a worksite that led to a fall-related accident.

Unsafe, unsafe, unsafe.

Now, protesters and local politicians are shining a bright light on these obvious safety concerns. Financial decisions, like this, help explain why construction accidents continue to occur and why the worker safety laws that protect construction workers are still so very important. Who is going to protect the workers when the people in charge of the project are solely interested in the profit margin?

Block O'Toole & Murphy is a team of lawyers that takes pride in helping injured construction workers and their families. The results they have obtained in construction and work related accident cases speak volumes about their skill, experience and tenacity. They have obtained more than $750,000,000 in verdicts and settlements for their injured clients. To learn more about them, please see the firm website at For a free consultation, please call them at 212.736.5300.

Source: Ben Kallos