It’s an unfortunate, but very real statistic: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that the construction industry sees as many as 99 deaths per week, or over 14 deaths each day.1
What’s worse, deaths in the construction industry can occur even when all precautions have been taken. However, understanding your rights and then finding the right New York construction accident attorney can help ensure you receive the best care and compensation.
Most Common Construction Accidents and OSHA Violations
Among the many accidents that occur on construction sites, some are more common than others. Falls, electrocution, and fires are just a few of these common occurrences.
Typically, this kind of OSHA violation occurs on construction sites in two ways. Construction site workers will often be required to work at great heights, whether on scaffolding, ladders, roofs, or windows, from which they can fall.
The other kinds of falls involve those which occur after slipping on stray tools, materials, uneven ground, and similar situations. Falls accounted for nearly 40% of deaths in 2016.2
OSHA combats this type of violation by continuing to offer Local Emphasis Programs, which include, among other hazards, a focus on fall protection.
Among the other dangers commonly present at construction sites, hazards such as exposed wiring, unfinished electrical systems, and power lines are also present and pose the significant risk of injury or death to construction workers via electrocution. This particular type of accident accounted for 8.3% of total construction deaths in 2016.3
Lack of training is a common OSHA violation which can lead to injury or death from electrocution and other accidents on construction sites.
As with the exposed wiring and unfinished electrical systems commonly present at construction sites, so, too, will workers often come into contact with gas leaks, unfinished piping, and incomplete electrical systems. Explosions are also a common cause of injury and death at construction sites, started by sparks from grinding or welding due to unnoticed gas leaks.
As with other types of accidents, training offered by employers and confirmed as received and understood by employees is of the utmost importance where prevention is the goal.
Falling debris is one of the most common causes of accidents in construction sites, especially on sites having multiple levels. In these situations, construction workers can become injured, sometimes fatally, when struck by falling objects like beams, building materials, and tools.
A lack of eye and face protection to prevent these types of injuries is another common violation of the OSHA standard.
Types of Heavy Machinery Accidents
Construction workers operating heavy machinery can also be in danger of injury or death. Accidents on construction sites involving bulldozers, nail guns, jackhammers, cranes, and similar equipment are common, as are “caught-between” accidents.
Caught-between accidents see workers or their families seeking legal assistance when they become caught in a machine, between a machine and another object, or by the collapse of a structure, and these account for 7.3% of total deaths in the industry.4
Accident Prevention, OSHA Guidelines, and Employee Rights
Federal law dictates that all workers are entitled to safe working conditions. Employers are bound by law to provide a workplace that is free of safety and health hazards. As an employee, you have several rights.
First, you do have the right to voice your concerns without fear of being retaliated against. All workers have the right to be trained in a language they understand and be provided with safety gear appropriate for the job they will be doing.
Employees also have the right to request that an inspection by OSHA be done for their particular work site, as well as speak to the inspector and a New York City construction accident lawyer with regard to their safety on that site.
In addition, as an employee, you have the right to:
- Be provided proper protection from toxic materials.
- Report illness or injury.
- Receive copies of your medical records.
- Receive copies of the results of any workplace hazards tests performed.
- Work on safe machines.
- Refuse to speak to any insurance carrier or individual unknown to you who may ask you for details about your accident.
Consequences of Construction Accidents on Workers
When construction workers sustain an injury, their level of health can be permanently affected. As well, injuries can also affect workers’ abilities to earn their livings over a long period of time, if not permanently. When coupled with the high costs of treatment and subsequent medical bills, they and their immediate families can be placed in financial peril.
Steps to Take if You’ve Been Injured
Many wonder what to do when they become injured on the job. Of course, this can be a frightening and confusing time.
- Report Your Injury
The very first and most important thing you must do is report your injury. Why is this so important? Because, if you don’t report right away, you can be denied the benefits and treatment you need by your employer.
Not only that but, by not reporting right away, your employers can also be questioned by their insurance carriers as to why they didn’t report on time. Some employers have been known to deny the occurrence of accidents on the job site, or to claim the injuries did not occur there to avoid litigation by construction accident lawyers in New York.
Even if you don’t think you were hurt seriously, you should always report to your employer. This will ensure your protection. When reporting, be sure to do so in writing with a reliable person to witness it. If you’re a member of a union, you will want to report both to your employer and your union representative.
- Get Witnesses
You may also want to speak with coworkers who may have witnessed your injury and get their statements in writing. If this isn’t possible at the time, you can ask for their contact information so that you can speak with them at another time.
- Get Treatment
Getting treatment as soon as possible following your injury will accomplish three things: It will allow you to get needed treatment; it will also create an official document of your injuries; and, last, getting treatment right away will eliminate any additional time between your injury and medical treatment—time that can be used against you in court.
- Get Pictures
As soon as possible after your injury occurs, it’s important to take photos of the site where you had the accident. Ensure that this is done in a timely manner because conditions at a construction site can change rapidly, and the conditions under which you became injured may no longer exist if you wait too long.
You Have Options
Although the law prohibits you from suing your employer when you become injured on the job, you may still be able to recover additional damages, including lost wages, loss of life enjoyment, and pain and suffering.
The only way to know whether or not you can get this kind of compensation is to contact a legal professional.
Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Construction Injury Claim
Let’s be honest: There are a lot of lawyers out there. The right one for you can be difficult to identify if you’re not sure what to look for.
First of all, any legal professional you choose should have extensive knowledge of the construction industry and what accidents can occur there. While this may seem obvious, it’s important not to assume that a lawyer has this kind of expertise; confirm this before you hire one.
You’ll also want to find a New York construction accident attorney that will work in a partnership with workers’ compensation lawyers. In being able to do this, your attorney can get what they need to ensure you receive as much as possible for your injuries and other losses which have occurred as a result.
Your attorney should be able to provide you with several examples of successful cases where a construction worker was able to be helped by their firm. Finally, you should be able to claim a free consultation with them so that you can make up your own mind about whether their firm is the right one for you.
The Dearie Law Firm – Working Hard for You
The Dearie Law Firm has been representing thousands of clients in construction site accident cases, workers’ compensation settlements, premise liability, slip and fall accidents, and more since it was founded in 1986 by John C. Dearie.
There’s no guesswork when you choose us; we offer a free consultation so that you can get the answers you need at no cost to you. Not only that but, when you choose us, we will use our years of expertise to ensure you get every penny you deserve.
No matter where you are, we are always accessible. We have offices in Manhattan and the Bronx, and we also have three mobile law offices to cover the five boroughs in New York City. Get the help you need by claiming your free consultation: Call the Dearie Law Firm at (212) 970-6500 today.