Construction Accidents/OSHA Violations in New York & New Jersey
Construction sites are dangerous places and construction site accidents often result in critical injuries and even death. A common cause of these accidents is the negligence of a general contractor, an employer, or somebody else on the job site.
If you have been the victim of a construction site injury in New York or New Jersey, the personal injury lawyers at Metro Law can help you seek compensation. Our reputable construction accident lawyers will work diligently to defend your rights and pursue the financial compensation you are entitled to.
Construction Site Accidents and Injuries
The construction industry in New York and New Jersey employs multitudes of people on a wide variety of projects for commercial enterprises, private endeavors, and government entities. From bridge construction and roadway work to the construction of new buildings and the demolition of old ones, construction work is omnipresent in our everyday lives.
While construction workers account for only about 6% of the workforce nationwide, the dangers that come with working in this field greatly surpass those of many other industries. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration published that one-fifth of all annual work-related fatalities are from the construction industry.
Jobs in construction are physically and emotionally demanding. Workers often strain themselves by lifting, pushing, carrying, and pulling equipment and materials. Operating heavy machinery can also be physically and mentally taxing. The very nature of the job makes construction workers much more vulnerable to accidents.
Construction workers are also expected to work in extreme weather conditions with large, dangerous, and loud equipment. Safety gear is essential for worker protection but many employers cut corners and neglect to provide quality equipment or sufficient gear.
What is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration?
Along with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress also formed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure healthful and safe working conditions by developing and enforcing industry standards and by offering outreach, training, assistance, and education.
OSHA, which falls under the purview of the United States Department of Labor, routinely cites New York and New Jersey construction companies for safety violations, like exposing workers to hazardous equipment, occupational exposures, and fall hazards.
In spite of OSHA’s best efforts, accidents can and do happen. Over 20% of all workplace injuries take place within the construction industry. If you are injured at a construction site, our skilled New York and New Jersey construction accident lawyers will help you and your loved ones seek financial compensation from those responsible.
The Fatal Four
In the construction industry, the most fatal kinds of accidents are known as the “Fatal Four.” Responsible for nearly 65% of all construction site accidents, the Fatal Four are:
- Struck by an object
- Caught in/between accidents
These four types of accidents are responsible for the deaths of roughly 630 construction workers every single year.
Common Causes of Construction Accidents
Construction sites are inherently dangerous places, and workers in the field are routinely exposed to multiple dangers. Even average working conditions put both contractors and their employees at a greatly increased risk of falling, being hit by a falling object, and other dangers.
Listed below are just a few of the dangers that construction workers face on a daily basis:
Electrical currents expose workers to serious job site accidents and injuries. Every member of the workforce is exposed to electricity during their routine duties. Workers are often unaware of possible electrical risks, making them prone to dangerous shocks and even electrocution.
There are four main categories of electrical injury: electric shock, electrocution, falls caused by contact with electrical current, and burns.
Occupational diseases are any illnesses associated with a specific industry or occupation. These diseases are caused by various chemical, biological, psychological, and physical factors that are found in the work environment or are otherwise come across during the course of employment. These diseases are easily preventable and are often ascribed to substandard working conditions.
For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1.7 million workers in the United States are exposed to crystalline silica–a common mineral found across numerous construction sites.
Materials such as stone, sand, mortar, and concrete contain crystalline silica. It is also used to make pottery, glass, artificial stone, bricks, and ceramics.
When workers inhale these tiny crystalline silica particles, their risk of developing serious silica-related diseases increases. These diseases include:
- Silicosis, an incurable and often fatal lung disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Renal disease
- Lung cancer
To protect workers who have been exposed, OSHA has issued two sets of standards for working environments impacted by respirable crystalline silica: one for general industry and maritime, and the other for construction.
If you previously or currently work as a roofer, insulator, concrete worker, brick mason, heating & air conditioning installer, carpenter, plumber, electrician, or pipefitter, you are at an increased risk for an occupational disease.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, forklift rollovers are the leading cause of forklift-related deaths and account for nearly 25%. OSHA set standards for how forklifts and other powered industrial trucks are to be used in many industries, mainly for the purpose of carrying materials. Forklifts are also used to remove, lower, or lift large objects or multiple smaller objects on crates, boxes, pallets, or other industrial containers.
Even though forklifts are essential machinery, there are many dangers that come with operating them.
Workers can become injured when:
- A forklift crashes off a loading dock
- Forklifts fall in between an unsecured trailer and the loading dock
- A worker is hit or run over by a forklift
- A worker falls while they are standing on elevated tines and pallets
Despite their necessity to shipping yards, construction sites, large retail establishments, dockyards, and warehouses across the country, workers who work near or use forklifts every day are at serious risk of being seriously injured if they are involved in an accident. Employers are responsible for making sure that their powered industrial truck operators are competent in their job.
It is against federal law for a person to operate a forklift if they have not been trained and certified to do so.
Falling Object Accidents
Construction workers are frequently at risk of being struck by falling objects, especially when they are working under scaffolding or cranes or while any overhead work is being done. They are also in danger of being hit by flying objects from power tools or other work-related activities, like pushing, prying, or pulling on objects, causing them to go airborne.
A construction site is a hectic environment with many workers performing tasks in different areas and at different heights. With one simple misstep, a heavy object can fall, hitting a worker below. The falling object could be a hammer or other tool. It could also be bricks, lumber, hoist, mortar, buckets, steel, debris, power tools, bolts, or anything else that could potentially fall.
Construction work, by its very nature, makes it easy for workers to be hurt by falling debris or a falling object. Even when every proper precaution is taken, they can still be critically or fatally injured by a falling object, especially when that object weighs hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
Falls from Elevations
Falls are a persistent danger encountered in every occupational setting. A fall can take place while a worker is simply walking, climbing a ladder, or due to a complex chain-reaction of events that ultimately affect a steelworker one hundred feet off the ground.
Most fall-related injuries and deaths involve:
- Performing cleaning and maintenance on a high-rise building
- Moving large materials, industrial transportation
- Construction workers
- Extraction workers (anyone who siphons, drills, or otherwise removes material from the ocean or ground)
Common causes of fall-related injuries include:
- Unstable or slippery walking surfaces
- Unguarded edges
- Holes in flooring
- Unsafe ladders
- Insufficient fall protection
There are many federal rules and regulations that outline specific industry standards for safety. Ongoing violations of safety regulations and dangerous practices have led to steadily increasing fall injury rates every year.
OSHA and Falls
OSHA tasks employers with protecting workers from falls. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry and can almost always be prevented. OSHA states that, for general industry, fall protection must be in use if working at heights of more than four feet. In maritime use, most notably ship repair, fall protection must be in use at five or more feet on vessels, and longshore operations require fall protection at heights over eight feet.
Fall protection includes the use of safety net systems, guardrail systems, and personal fall arrest or similar systems. In regards to construction operations, fall protection must be used at heights of six feet or more.
Common Construction Accident Injuries
Spinal injuries and broken bones are common injuries caused by construction accidents. Falling from a height, slip and falls, and falling objects can also result in traumatic brain and closed head injuries. Knee, ankle, back, shoulder, and neck injuries are most often the result of a construction site trip and fall accident.
Other frequent construction site injuries include:
- Eye injuries and vision impairment
- Digit and limb amputations
- Sprains and strains
- Lacerations and contusions
- Hearing loss
- Chemical-related disease or illness
- Wrongful death
Based on the seriousness of the injury, a worker might need extensive medical attention, surgery, therapy, rehabilitation, and ongoing care. The medical bills and loss of wages associated with serious injuries can be just as devastating for the victim and their family as the injury itself.
These kinds of situations underscore the need for full and fair economic recovery to help victims cope with the consequences of a serious construction site injury.
Injured Due to Violations of U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Rules
Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers all across the United States in just about every industry are required to comply with OSHA regulations. Violators are subject to fines, citations, and various other penalties.
Sadly, many employers fail to comply with these safety regulations, and in some circumstances, their negligence leads to worker injuries. If this happens, the first thing you should do is to speak with a respected construction accident lawyer who can explain all legal options available to you in the pursuit of financial compensation for your injuries.
Our New Jersey and New York personal injury lawyers at Metro Law have a successful track record of recovering favorable verdicts and settlements for our injured clients. We understand the nuances of New York and New Jersey laws as they apply to construction site injuries caused by OSHA violations. If you were injured due to employer negligence and OSHA violations, reach out to us for a free review of your potential personal injury claim.
Reporting OSHA Violations
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, workers are entitled to file a complaint with OSHA about any employer violations and ask for an official inspection of their job site. We strongly recommend that you do this as soon as possible after you observe a persistent workplace danger. OSHA is only able to issue citations for current offenses and offenses that have taken place in the past six months.
Compensation for Injuries Caused by OSHA Violations
In many instances, workers’ compensation insurance covers employees for on-the-job injuries. Workers’ compensation covers medical costs, partial repayment of lost income, and a few other benefits. It is important to bear in mind that workers’ compensation might not be enough to fully reimburse a worker who was injured due to employer negligence in upholding OSHA regulations.
Workers’ compensation is intended to give benefits to injured workers and to protect their employers from civil lawsuits. The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled, however, in cases of severe injury following an employer’s breach of OSHA safety regulations, that New Jersey workers’ compensation does not make negligent employers immune to liability.
If your employer was found to be in violation of OSHA regulations by creating or allowing dangerous working conditions that resulted in your serious injury, you might have a legitimate claim for financial compensation for the damages you have sustained. Your damages can include things such as current and anticipated medical costs, lost income, lost future earnings, pain and suffering, and many more.
Contact a New Jersey Construction Site Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a construction site accident, please reach out to the New Jersey and New York OSHA violation lawyers at Metro Law at (973) 721-9984 for a no-obligation consultation. For four decades, our law firm has been helping workers file third-party and workers’ compensation claims so they can receive the compensation and medical care they need after being seriously injured on the job.