Living in the world that we do, one of the things we tend to take for granted is the development and growth of our cities. It is not an uncommon sight to see new highways and buildings being built, we eagerly anticipate the grand opening of a new mall or restaurant or skyscraper or even our dream home, rarely pausing to think of the blood, sweat and intense hard work that goes into these creations.
New York City is one such city where construction is a round the clock, 24/7 business. A booming city that never sleeps, it is known throughout the world for it’s impressive skyline, its sky high towers and architecture that is both breath taking and innovative.
But did you know that according to the annual report from the Bureau of Labour Statistics released in January 2019, the construction industry continues to rank top as New York’s deadliest industry to work for? In fact statistics show 2018 saw an increase in construction related accidents and fatalities in New York City with Manhattan (no surprised there) leading with the highest number of accidents, injuries and deaths in just the last few months alone. We always think of police officers and fire fighters putting their lives on the line everyday, in some ways construction workers do the same. Anything can go wrong at any minute on a construction site and lives can be lost.
What kind of accidents can take place in a construction site?
- Exposure to harmful and hazardous products;
- Falling objects from above or being struck by heavy machinery and equipment. Proper attire on a construction site is very important and can make a difference in the severity of an injury.
- Electrocution or explosions;
- Construction workers falling from high places due to improper scaffolding, not being harnessed securely, holes in the floor (there was a recent death in Manhattan where a worker fell down an elevator shaft and died). Lack of railings and guardrails, lack of proper signage warning of danger etc. A fall is especially fatal because more often than not it results in death or severe injuries such as paralysis.
While safety has always been a concern in this industry, New York is starting to place a greater emphasis to ensure worker safety. In an attempt to do so and decrease workplace accidents the New York City Council passed a law in 2018 requiring all construction workers to undergo 40 hours of safety training. The council had initially suggested 59 hours of training and the completion of an apprenticeship program, this was modified to the 40 hours training requirement as a result of intense backlash from construction companies and unions. Even the final compromise has met with criticism from smaller construction businesses and contractors who feel spending 40 hours on safety training will come at a steep financial cost.
Financial cost or not, it’s encouraging to see the city is trying to take the necessary steps to save lives and decrease the number of construction accidents and this is hopefully a trend which will continue. Because construction plays such an enormous role in the growth and development of any city or population, it is especially important to raise awareness around the dangers of construction work and discuss measures on how to prevent them and how to cope with the aftermath of an accident, if one occurs. This can involve seeking therapy for mental health support, physical therapy to recover medically and often lawsuits in order to seek damages and compensations.
If you find yourself in a situation like this and you’re unsure of how to proceed, contact a lawyer to discuss your situation and find out what if anything you are entitled to.