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New York construction workers fall to their death

By | Construction Accidents | No Comments

On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Friday, February 11th, 2011

Construction is one of the most dangerous lines of business. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) puts numerous restrictions in place to protect workers, sometimes that is not enough. Some employers ignore the safety regulations. In other situations, there are simply more dangers than can be accounted for in a list of rules. Scaffolding, ladders and beams fall, and without intentional and appropriate safety measures, anyone working on them can get hurt.

Earlier this week, two construction workers in the Upper West Side of New York fell to their death when OSHA regulations were ignored. The men were working on the seventh floor of a building when the beam on which they were standing fell, and the men fell to the second floor. According to the New York Post, the two men were not wearing safety harnesses. In addition to harnesses, OSHA also requires safety nets be used when individuals are working at elevated heights. These safety regulations were ignored.

Since construction on the building began in late 2009, there have been other safety violations as well. As recently as Sunday, a building inspector issued a violation because there was loose aluminum and tarps on the roof of the building. Last June there were complaints because the workers were storing scaffolding on the building’s roof.

Because of the safety violations and expired building permits, construction was stopped at that point for about a month. Unfortunately, the recent deaths make it apparent that safety regulations are still not taken seriously.

Under New York State Labor Law section 240, which was enacted to protect construction workers from accident just like this one, responsibility for safety devices is placed on the owner and the general contractor because they have the power to insure that proper safety devices and on the site and used by all workers.

Check back later to read more about the safety standards that were violated and the investigations underway by the Department of Buildings.

Source: New York Post, “Two construction workers die after fall on Upper West Side,” Jamie Schram and Joe Walker, 8 February 2011

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Worker Seriously Injured When Construction Vehicle Tips Over

By | Construction Accidents | No Comments

On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Monday, December 6th, 2010

A construction worker in Rockland County suffered serious injuries recently when the construction vehicle he was using tipped over and threw him out of the drivers’ seat. The 26-year-old man reportedly suffered injuries to his head, shoulder, hip, and femur, but the injuries are not considered life-threatening.

According to witnesses, the vehicle toppled over as it was carrying a number of steel rods. There had apparently been a heavy rain not long before the accident and it is believed the vehicle tipped over because one of the tires had sunk into the soft ground. It is unclear at this time if the vehicle was overloaded with weight, but the construction company completed an inspection of the vehicle and believed it to be in proper working order.

The injured worker was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern and was released a short time later. An inspection of the vehicle and the work site was to be completed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The construction company employing the worker, Nikko Construction, is said to be cooperating with the investigation.

Incidents like this one are all too common in the construction industry. Fortunately, the construction worker in this case did not appear to suffer and permanent injuries. However, incidents like these can often result in long-term injuries, paralysis, or even death.

When these types of injuries do occur, residents of New York have a couple of options. In addition to workers’ compensation, construction workers can also rely on Sections 200, 240 and 241 of the New York Labor Law to secure compensation for injuries suffered in the construction industry. If you have been injured while working in the construction field, you may want to seek out legal advice to find out if you may have a claim for additional financial compensation.

Source: LoHud.com, Worker seriously injured at Ramapo baseballs stadium construction site, James O’Rourke 11/18/10

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OSHA Fines Two Companies Following New York Scaffolding Collapse

By | Construction Accidents | No Comments

On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Friday, November 12th, 2010

A scaffolding collapse at Binghamton University in New York last June resulted in six injuries and a thorough investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This week, OSHA presented the results of its investigation and announced thousands of dollars in fines for two companies – a Syracuse-based roofing contractor and an out-of-state subcontractor who had been entrusted with scaffold construction.

The shortcomings and subsequent hazards OSHA investigators found at the site were blatant. The safety system used to secure the scaffold, a set of chains designed to hold the bridge, were completely absent.

While OSHA could not figure out who had removed the chains or why, they determined that the subcontractor in charge of ensuring the scaffold’s safety had not placed a competent person in charge of the process. By their logic, anyone with an idea of their role and the work would have noted the clear hazard posed by a scaffolding system without safety chains.

The companies that were fined, as with similar situations, have a specific amount of time within which they may contest OSHA’s findings. If they fail to do so, the administration’s findings will stand.

Scaffolding collapses are an extremely serious and ever-present danger at construction sites. When companies decide to cut costs, manpower or time spent on safety, it’s the construction workers who suffer.

Construction workers in New York have the protection of New York Labor Law Sections 200, 240 and 241, enacted to provide increased worker safety for dangerous consruction jobs.  Civil lawsuits that hold owners and general contractors accountable for not providing proper and adequate safety devices for workers help make dangerous worksites safer for all workers. And, they ensure that the corporations with the power to make safety a priority bear the cost of the harm and not workers and their families, or ultimately the taxpayers.

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OSHA Notes “Serious Safety Violations” at New York Business

By | Premises Liability | No Comments

On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Premises Liability on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has accused a New York business of more than 30 “serious” safety violations at its New York Mills plant and threatened thousands of dollars in fines if the company does not immediately address the issue.

The Fountain Group, which produces “agricultural-hand sprayers” for the average consumer is accused of a large number of work hazards. The dangers facing employees include electric shock, burns and machine-inflicted injuries – among other potentially deadly hazards. OSHA did not say whether or not there had already been accidents reported at the plant.

OSHA officials have given The Fountainhead Group 15 business days to reply to the charges. Company executives have the right to contest the findings before an independent review commission. Alternately, they may simply choose to accept OSHA’s demands and pay the proposed fines.

Whether the health and safety hazards appeared to be a product of cost cutting or unprompted negligence, OSHA spokesmen did not say.

If you work at a company with a poor safety record, or one you fear is on the brink of a major accident, it is important that you alert the proper authorities immediately. We’ve all seen what can happen when companies wait too long to fix a serious problem.

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New York Contractor Fined for Hazardous Working Conditions

By | Construction Accidents | No Comments

On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Painting and Decorating Inc., a contractor providing painting and stucco services in New York, could face up to $225,000 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a number of scaffolding safety violations were discovered at two job sites in Kings Point.

These weren’t minor infractions, either. These were very serious, very preventable safety issues. The kinds of violations found at the Kings Point job sites included:

  • failure to replace missing railings, bracing and toeboards
  • failure to ensure that scaffolds had the correct amount of planks
  • failure to offer works protection from falls at either job site

The list goes on.

This isn’t the first time Painting and Decorating Inc. has received violations for OSHA for hazardous working conditions. In fact, the company received similar admonishments in both 2007 and 2008.

Obviously, they aren’t taking the hint.

Hundreds of construction accidents occur every year, yet employers seem intent on continuing to push the limits of safety. OSHA gets in and levies fines, but if the fines don’t work, then what?

That’s why we need the civil justice system!  So that a jury can hold companies like this accountable under New York Labor Law section 240 or 241(6) and other workplace safety rules for the full amount of the harm they inflict on construction workers. Jury awards are one of the best ways to encourage safer construction practices.

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Wal-Mart Fighting Hard to Avoid Responsibility for Worker’s Death

By | Personal Injury | No Comments

On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Jdimytai Damour died from suffocation at a Long Island Wal-Mart in the early hours of November 28. The 34-year-old was a temporary worker, brought in to help field the rush of customers packed outside the door for post-Thanksgiving sales. At around 5:00 a.m., Damour opened the store doors to around 2,000 holiday shoppers.

The initial surge of frenzied bargain hunters knocked him off his feet and the continued pressure from the back of the crowd carried hundreds of people over him. Trampled and unable to breathe, Damour perished.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials ordered the retail giant to pay $7,000 in fines for what it deemed to be an occupational hazard, presenting a significant risk of employee injury. OSHA cited Wal-Mart for failing to provide employees with a safe area, failing to protect them from harm. 

To date, Wal-Mart has spent more than one million dollars fighting the fine. Based on the response so far, that amount may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Wal-Mart has already taken steps to fix its crowd control problem, implementing new guidelines in New York State, initially, and recently across the country. The company also set aside $400,000 for customers injured that day and donated $1.5 million to Nassau County community programs.

The reasoning behind Wal-Mart’s siege of OSHA’s fine is a little hard for state and federal officials to nail down – especially since they have been willing to pay Nassau County, essentially taking responsibility for Damour’s death and customer injuries.

Wal-Mart’s lawyers have argued vigorously that OSHA is attempting to pull a fast one by defining “crowd trampling” as an occupational hazard and something employers should be liable to prevent.

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