As we happily bid adieu to the last weeks of snow and cold we enter into spring bright eyed and bushy tailed. We look back on the frozen mornings of scraping ice from windshields and smile because we have several months ahead of sun, and months of roads free from black ice with shoes free from boots and hands free from gloves. During this time of the year it is easy to forget that the spring season comes with hazards of its own: construction. As our cities are under renovation, as it seems on almost every block, bear in mind that the moving parts pose a danger to each of us. From heavy machinery to loose gravel and ad hoc scaffolding, there are countless ways that a bystander or construction worker could become injured. This injuries can be caused by flying debris, tool misuse, mechanical errors or failures, or a host of other reasons. Sustained injuries can include loss of eyesight, illnesses from chemical exposure, broken limbs, or even death. Already this year several construction site accidents have occurred across the country.
A Manhattan Mishap
Just recently a demolition crew was hard at work in Manhattan. The project underway was an interior demolition being overseen by Tishman Construction. The employees working in the entranceway worked for a contractor called Waldorf Demolition. The construction site was located at 331 Madison Avenue and by 10:00 a.m. the crew was working to remove a chandelier from the first-floor entrance. The chandelier weighed several hundred pounds. The construction workers were using a four-foot tall banister made of marble as leverage as they attempted to secure the chandelier for removal. The banister was located on the mezzanine level and it quickly gave way. Four workers fell about 15 feet to the ground. The chandelier then fell on top of them. The workers were transported to Bellevue Hospital for treatment and the Department of Buildings issued violations and ordered that the work at the site stop. A spokeswoman for the SL Green Realty Corporation said after the accident, “Safety is our top priority. We are working with our contractors and the Department of Buildings to ensure that work can resume safely at 331 Madison.”
Construction and You
Construction workers in the State of New York have an incredibly risky job. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about 20% of employees who died on the job in 2013 were employees in the construction industry. One of the protections put in place for New York employees is known as New York Labor Law §240, commonly referred to as the Scaffolding Law. Since the late 1800s this law has been in place primarily as a protection for employees who worked on skyscrapers. The law, in essence, provides that any construction employee who is injured as a result of gravity is entitled to compensation from their employer. This is a deviation from many other laws in this area in that it does not require that the employee show that the employer was at fault. The law in New York assumes that if someone is injured from falling or having something fall from a vertical condition (or height) the conditions must have been unsafe.
If you have been injured on a construction site, either as a worker or a pedestrian, contact the compassionate and committed team at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC to protect your rights. We are happy to help you with your case.