Unscrupulous developers and contractors who repeatedly violate safety rules at construction sites are now facing arrest in New York City, claims Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters. The bold proclamation was made by Commissioner Peters during a speech at New York Law School earlier this week. His position comes on the heels of some highly publicized and dangerous construction accidents. It also follows a Department of Buildings bribery scandal.
This veiled threat of arrest sounds far more intrusive than the reality. As usual, paying attention to just the headlines is misleading. Read about The Construction Accident Lawyers’ take on this below . . .
The headlines read that those who repeatedly violate safety rules and regulations at construction sites will be arrested. It sounds like a politician is taking on the issue of worker safety head on. This is great publicity for the Commissioner at the Department of Investigation and a calling that is just. The reality however, is far different than the media spin. Peters’ plan would collar only the violators who rack up a significant number of violations and then failed to pay the fines for those violations. What does this accomplish? It punishes those who egregiously scoff at safety rules and regulations and also deliberately fail to pay for those violations. This is a money generating ploy with a cute headline that makes it seem like they are focused on increasing worker safety. It will deter people from failing to pay their fines, which is not a bad thing by any stretch, but it will have no impact on worker safety. It is the akin to law enforcement claiming they’re going to crack down on drivers who continuously run red lights, when in reality they are going after scofflaws who fail to pay the tickets associated with running a red light.
If this ambitious plan was setting out to arrest people who placed hard-working women and men in extremely dangerous circumstances so that they can complete work in a more expeditious manner and generate a greater profit, then we would be singing a very different tune. The penal laws in this state essentially ignore the reckless employer who places an innocent worker in harm’s way to line his or her pockets. The number of instances where the criminal justice system has attempted to hold a general contractor, wealthy property owner or developer criminally responsible for the death of a defenseless construction worker is almost non-existent. If you’re looking for real deterrence, a homicide charge for failing to provide a safe place to work may do the trick. Going after scofflaws for failing to pay a fine is just another way to garner a cheap headline and fill the city’s coffers.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that is committed to helping injured workers and their families. The lawyers at this firm have been fighting to preserve and strengthen worker safety laws in New York State for the better part of 2 decades. They have recovered more than $850 million in verdicts and settlements for their clients. You may learn more about the firm by reviewing the firm website at www.blockotoole.com.