Thousands of construction worksites throughout New York City were recently hit with stop work orders for having serious safety violations. The orders came on the heel of a three-month review ordered by City Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. In total, the city inspected 7,500 building construction sites across all five boroughs.
The results from the long investigation reveal just how dangerous some building projects are. While construction work is inherently dangerous, contractors and building owners should take steps to limit the chances of a worker being injured.
Nearly Half of New York City Construction Sites Found Violating Safety Regulations
Tragically, seven construction workers died from on-the-job injuries in the first few months of 2021. These deaths prompted the City to investigate which building sites were violating safety requirements and risking workers’ safety as a result. Out of the 7,500 construction sites that were investigated this year, a staggering 3,600 safety violations were issued against contractors.
What is a “stop Work Order”?
“Stop work orders” or SWOs, are issued when construction sites are deemed unreasonably unsafe for workers. These orders may prohibit work entirely until the site meets specific requirements, or work may be partially restricted in some areas until certain conditions are met.
If contractors or property owners ignore the order and continue work, they can face financial penalties. Worksites are fined $5,000 the first time they ignore an SWO, and $10,000 for each violation going forward.
In order for the SWO to be lifted, buildings must show the city that they have met the specific requirements outlined in the SWO.
City Prioritized Fall Prevention During Construction Site Investigations
City inspectors reviewed all procedures and aspects of the worksites they visited, but scaffolding and fall prevention measures were a primary concern.
Falls from heights can result in catastrophic injuries that are often fatal. These risks are greater when working from one of the many high-rises throughout the city.
Falls are a leading cause of construction worker deaths. As recently as May of 2021, a construction worker was fatally injured when he fell from a bank roof in Brooklyn. Between 2007 and 2014, more than half of all fatal construction accident injuries in New York City were caused by falls.
Buildings and construction sites must provide guardrails, properly secured harnesses, properly secured scaffolding, and safety gear like hardhats when workers are working from elevated heights. If they do not and someone falls and is injured, they may be held liable.
How Injured Construction Workers Can Hold Contractors and Property Owners Accountable
City-wide investigations are important for raising greater awareness of the unsafe conditions that many New York City construction workers endure. While stop work orders have temporarily helped to protect workers at some of the most dangerous worksites, there is still more to be done to ensure safe work environments for all.
As City Buildings Commissioner La Rocca said in a statement, “The reality is that we cannot be in all places at all times.”
General contractors, subcontractors, and property owners are required to provide workers with safety equipment, sufficient training, and safe work premises.
Often legal action is the only way to hold them accountable for failing to provide safe work environments.
Unsafe work premises can include the following:
- Improperly secured scaffolding
- Weak or unstable structures
- Unsafe exposure to toxic chemicals and substances
- Electrocution risks
- Insufficient safety equipment (lack of harnesses, safety railings, hardhats, masks, gloves, and more)
- Trip and fall hazards
- Insufficient emergency exits
If contractors or property owners fail to provide a safe work environment and a construction worker gets hurt as a result, they may be held financially accountable. Injured workers may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover money lost for their medical care, time out of work while they recovered, pain and suffering, and more.
Compensation Available for Families of Construction Accident Victims
Construction accidents often result in serious injuries. Many times, these injuries are fatal.
In addition to the grief that these sudden losses cause, family members are often left with considerable financial burdens after a loved one passes. In the short term, they likely have to pay unexpected memorial costs after having just paid for expensive emergency medical bills. Over time, the loss of the deceased’s wages can change a family’s financial circumstances drastically.
Surviving family members may be eligible for compensation to help cover these losses through workers’ compensation benefits and/or by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Shulman & Hill Fights for Injured Construction Workers
For nearly a decade, Shulman & Hill has helped injured New York City construction workers secure compensation for their losses. Our legal team includes both workers’ compensation lawyers and personal injury attorneys, allowing us to assist with any type of injury claim you may have.
Our construction accident law firm can help you file for workers’ compensation benefits and fight against a wrongly denied claim.
Our team can investigate the circumstances of your accident to help determine who may be responsible for your injuries. If the results of our investigation show a general contractor, subcontractor, or property owner’s negligence caused your accident, we can help pursue additional compensation on your behalf by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
To date, Shulman & Hill has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for injured New York City workers. To better understand what your legal rights may be after a construction accident, schedule a free legal consultation.