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Scaffolding accident injures several

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Just like its people, New York architecture is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions. After all, the weather is known to shift dramatically and without much notice. And while most buildings can hold up against heavy winds, rain and snow, it’s incredibly important that construction and maintenance crews account for how worksites may withstand such conditions. A recent construction accident in Midtown New York illustrates how hazardous a construction zone can become when weather strikes.

The incident occurred recently when a metal and plywood construction shed was knocked over by extreme winds and rain. The scaffolding was covering up a restaurant renovation project when it was allegedly toppled by a gust of wind. Some pedestrians in the vicinity of the construction site were reportedly struck by falling debris. According to witness accounts, more than one pedestrian was actually trapped by the falling structure.

The scaffolding accident resulted in four people sustaining injuries. A firefighter with responding emergency crews was allegedly hurt, and three other people required medical treatment as well. All of the accident victims were transported to an area hospital.

A warning regarding extreme weather conditions was allegedly issued by the Department of Buildings the day the incident occurred. There is also evidence that the construction shed was not properly installed, according to building inspectors that investigated the scene. As a result, all construction was halted on the project.

Given that citations and a stop work order were distributed by the Department of buildings, it is not yet known whether responsibility for the injury accident falls on the construction company or owner. However, it does serve to re-enforce the need for strong safety laws that hold owners and general contrctors repsponible for work site safety violations.  Recent efforts by insurance companies and unsafe contractors seek to undermine the New York Labor Law which holds owners and general contractors responsible for unsafe conditions and helps keep us all safe.

Source: CBS New York, “Construction Shed Collapse Sends Debris Flying In Midtown,” Nov. 1, 2013

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Scaffold Law remains in place to protect NY construction workers

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Friday, June 28th, 2013

It is well known that construction is one of the most dangerous industries, with a high risk for injury. Laws work to ensure that employers provide proper and safe working conditions and also provide appropriate compensation to employees when injured on the job. Be it a crane accident, scaffolding accident, road construction accident or more, the need for New York construction workers to be protected is important.

A law known as the Scaffold Law ensures that employers are held liable for injuries sustained on a worksite. In place since 1885, this law has recently been the subject of review with proposed state legislation that would essentially reduce the overall liability of contractors and developers. It would allow juries to identify a portion of employee liability for a construction accident

Sheldon Silver, New York State Assembly Speaker, halted efforts to amend the Scaffold Law. Construction workers throughout New York understand the impacts a scaffolding accident can have, including long-term injury, loss of ability to work or even death. The ability to be compensation and protected in the event of such an accident is important to their overall safety.

Any employee of a construction site that has questions about the laws or requirements of their employer to provide a safe workplace could consult with an attorney experienced in the area of constuction accidents. Knowing your rights before a problem occurs can go a long way toward prevention or at least helping to know what can be done in the event of a problem.

Source: Times Ledger, “Sheldon Silver rejects new Scaffold Law: Moya,” Chris Engelhardt, June 21, 2013

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Scaffolding accidents continue to occur

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Amazingly, no one was killed when scaffolding collapsed last week at a midtown Manhattan high-rise. Window washers were working on the 40th floor outside at 1177 Avenue of the Americas when one side of the scaffold came loose and titled at a 45 degree angle. The two window washers hung on until rescuers arrived moments later. The emergency crews cut two windows on the 43rd floor and hauled the men in with ropes.

One man was taken to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition, while the other worker was listed in stable condition at the same hospital.

According to the building’s landlord, Silverstein Properties, a mechanical failure in the scaffolding rig’s motor caused the accident. Both men were properly harnessed, and the emergency brake worked as it was supposed to, preventing the workers from falling from the rig.

Other recent scaffolding accidents include one on SOHO in which a construction worker fell from a scaffold 30 feet off the ground to his death and another in which two workers were injured at a home remodeling project in Lindenhurst, New Jersey. One suffered head injuries and the other was reported to have broken a leg. The men worked for Monster Home Improvements. No word on the cause of the accident was available.

New York City has unusual laws related to scaffolding accidents. First enacted in the late 19th century, the city’s scaffolding laws are designed to protect workers by holding employers liable for safety and responsible for injuries or fatalities sustained as a result of a scaffolding accident. They are the only such laws remaining in the Unied States.

There have been numerous attempts to overturn the law, often referred to as NY Labor Law 240. These efforts are supported by industry groups.

Source: DNAInfo.com, “Two Workers Injured After Scaffold Collapse on Midtown High-Rise,” July 11, 20012.

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New York scaffolding collapse injures 17 people

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Friday, September 30th, 2011

In a West 125th Street construction accident Tuesday, Sept. 20, a scaffold collapsed on a New York City bus, injuring 17 riders. Emergency workers on the scene announced that no injuries were life-threatening. In addition, no construction workers were on the five-story-high scaffold when it collapsed.

According to witnesses, the scaffold collapse occurred when bricks from the building, which was being demolished, fell onto the scaffolding with such force that the entire structure collapsed into the street below. At the time, most workers were working on an elevator shaft within the building. The scaffolding had been inspected on Sept. 7, but inspectors found nothing wrong with its condition.

According to one witness that was riding the bus at the time of the accident, the entire back of the bus filled with smoke and rubble crashed through the windows. After about a minute, the bus driver instructed the riders to exit the vehicle. Luckily, most people on the bus had just entered the vehicle from an uncovered stop where the scaffolding fell. If the scaffolding had fallen moments earlier, the injuries could have been much more severe.

New York City firefighters were quick to arrive on the scene, assisting the injured and clearing debris from the bus and street. The bus itself was driven down the street by a transit worker and towed away for repairs.

Source: The New York Times, “17 Injured as Scaffold Collapses Onto Bus in Harlem,” Andy Newman and Matt Flegenheimer, Sept. 20, 2011

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OSHA Fines Two Companies Following New York Scaffolding Collapse

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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.

Source Article

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Reported Workplace Injuries Declined in 2009

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

The number of reported workplace injuries and ailments decreased in 2009, from 3.9 per every 100 workers to 3.6. The number of cases dropped from 3.7 million to 3.3 million, according to the United States Department of Labor.

While Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis was positive about the decline, she was equally adamant in her assertion that 3.3 million cases of illness and injury were far too many. She also used the opportunity to stress the importance of accurate reporting, an ever-present issue in the workplace.

Without reporting, it is much harder for regulatory officials to step in and take action. For years, less scrupulous employers have either hid this information or made it worth the worker’s while to refrain from reporting dangerous environments or mismanagement.

Add in the fear of retaliation that most whistleblowers carry with them and it’s easy to see how the Department of Labor might struggle to attain an accurate picture of safety on the factory floor, construction site and elsewhere.

Oftentimes, regulatory agencies rely on employee reports to gain the information necessary to confront hazards before a work injury occurs. Take a construction site with dangerous scaffolding. While workers may use the scaffolding for months without injury, the slightest error could end in tragedy – one that might have been avoided.

So, while the drop in reported injuries and instances of illness is a step in the right direction, there is a long road left to travel.

Source Article

  • Statement of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis on reported decline in workplace injuries and illnesses (Press Release)

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New York Contractor Fined for Hazardous Working Conditions

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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.

Source Article

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Five New York Workers Injured in Construction Accident

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Friday, June 4th, 2010

Five workers were seriously injured on Wednesday when a section of scaffolding collapsed at a Binghamton University construction site. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the construction accident that caused five workers to fall nearly five stories to the ground.

The construction accident took place on Binghamton University’s East Campus. The five men were working on a site that would eventually become Delaware Hall, a residential community for BU students. According to a local news article, the scaffolding was positioned about 60 feet up and spanned the width of three dorm windows at the time of the incident. While working, the scaffolding suddenly collapsed sending the workers hurling to the ground.  

The 911 call came into university police and Broome County dispatch around 12:28 p.m. Shortly after, four of the five construction workers were taken to Wilson Regional Medical Center and the other to Lourdes Hospital in New York. One of the workers was in critical condition with the other four in stable condition prior to arriving at the hospital.

The current state of the injured workers has yet to be released.

LeChase Construction Services, who was overseeing the construction of the new building, expressed that they are investigating the cause of the accident and have shut down the site indefinitely. No immediate explanation was given as to why the support measures failed in this scaffolding accident.  

The building is part of the campus’s new housing project aimed at bring more than 900 new beds to campus. The new dormitory is scheduled to open in 2011 and will house about 400 students once completed.  

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