In the year 2015, across the United States, 937 construction workers died on the job. And in the years 2007 through 2014, an average of twenty construction workers were killed in accidents at construction sites each year in New York City. Thousands more are disabled or seriously injured every year in construction site accidents. What are the causes of these deaths and injuries? If you work in construction, are you at risk? And if you’re injured, what recourse do you have?
Falls and electrocution deaths and injuries are always potential risks for construction workers. All kinds of construction tools, machinery, and equipment – and especially any tools, machinery, or equipment that’s defective – can also pose a substantial safety risk to workers on construction sites.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS POSED BY CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT?
Machinery and equipment dangers and malfunctions are – or they should be – a never-ending concern for every construction worker and for every employer at every construction site.
The most common risks that are associated with construction equipment and construction machinery include:
Broken and worn parts: Broken and worn machinery and equipment parts can snap off, causing blunt force trauma or lacerations. They can also jam a machine or otherwise cause it to malfunction and cause injuries or deaths.
Electrical risks: When any construction machinery, equipment, or tools are used near power lines, the risk of electrocution for those using the machinery – and those near it – is high. Other electrical malfunctions sometimes trigger machinery to move on its own – which can be unpredictable and frightening.
Crane collapse: Cranes can fall over or collapse when weight is not properly distributed and balanced. A falling crane, as you might imagine, will crush whatever it crashes into on the way down.
Safety feature failure: The safety features on any machinery or construction equipment can fail unexpectedly. These incidents are impossible to predict, so it’s always wise to be extra cautious when using machinery or equipment.
WHO SHOULD TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONSTRUCTION SITE SAFETY?
It does not matter if you have years of experience as a construction worker, and it also doesn’t matter if you are using brand new equipment. Everyone on a construction site must pay attention to any indications of malfunctions or other problems with the machinery and equipment at the job site.
If you are working on a construction site, and if you believe that something might be wrong with your machinery or equipment, take no chances. Tell your foreman or supervisor at once, and ensure that no one else uses the equipment until it has been inspected. Every employer and employee on a construction site must stay alert and must put safety first.
WHAT EQUIPMENT IS TYPICALLY LINKED TO CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS?
Accidents involving ladders and scaffolding, unfortunately, are common at construction sites. Accidents with ladders happen when someone uses the wrong kind of ladder, uses a damaged or defective ladder, or sets up the ladder improperly and unsafely. Ladders are also sometimes manufactured defectively.
Scaffolding accidents also frequently happen on construction sites. Scaffolding must be assembled, moved, altered, and broken down only by those who have been trained for the task. The Department of Buildings in New York City advises all construction workers to use safety harnesses at all times when working on scaffolds.
Construction workers can be electrocuted when a tool or a piece of construction equipment or machinery contacts exposed electricity sources or live power lines. Electrocutions are more likely at construction sites when workers have not been fully and accurately told about all of the live power sources at the site.
Accidents with construction machinery, power tools, and other equipment can happen because of electrical failures, mechanical defects, manufacturing defects, insufficient worker training, a lack of safety equipment, or the failure of the safety equipment. It cannot be overstated – safety at a construction site must be a full-time concern. Construction workers cannot let their guard down, even for a moment.
IF YOU ARE INJURED WORKING CONSTRUCTION, WHERE CAN YOU TURN?
Most construction employers are responsible, so they make sure that their sites, machinery, and equipment are as safe as possible. Unfortunately, some employers in the construction industry are less meticulous. If you are a construction worker in New York, and if you’ve been injured on the job by construction machinery or equipment – or if you’re injured in the future – discuss your legal rights and options at once with an experienced New York construction accident attorney.
In the state of New York, most construction employees who are injured on the job will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp provides medical benefits and partial wage replacement benefits to injured employees. Workers injured on a construction site do not have to sue or otherwise prove that an employer was negligent to receive workers’ comp benefits.
However, if any third party plays any role in a construction worker’s injury, the worker may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against that third party. In construction site accidents caused by faulty or defective machinery or equipment, liability could fall on the manufacturers and distributors of the defective construction equipment or on any third-party contractors responsible for the equipment’s maintenance.
The legal issues in a construction-related, third-party personal injury case can get quite complicated. In this state, the construction industry is regulated by a confusing mix of local, state, and federal guidelines. In New York City, injured construction workers will need legal advice and direction from a lawyer who is familiar with the construction industry, familiar with the laws that govern it, and who routinely fights on behalf of injured construction workers.
WHAT IF WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ISN’T ENOUGH?
When a construction injury is catastrophic, disabling, and/or permanent, workers’ comp benefits alone cannot cover the full medical expenses, the lost income, and the related costs that may be incurred. In many cases, construction workers’ families quickly find themselves in a difficult financial situation.
If you’re injured doing construction work in New York, and if workers’ compensation will not adequately cover your lost income and medical expenses, you may be entitled to more than workers’ comp benefits – but you must be advised and represented by a personal injury attorney who knows both the law and the New York construction industry.
If you’ve been injured by machinery or equipment at a construction site in the state of New York, or if you are injured on the job in some other way as a construction worker, an experienced New York City construction accident attorney can review the details of the accident and then advise you regarding the best steps to take. Your health, family, and future are priorities, so if you’re injured doing construction, you must have sound and trustworthy legal advice.