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New York Legal Blog

A deadly trend for construction workers

In 2015, construction workers suffered more fatalities than any other industry sector. When the industry began picking up after a prolonged slump, many firms turned to inexperienced newcomers to complete the work. That lack of experience meant safety mistakes, as well as fewer experienced eyes to spot safety hazards and call out the firms engaging in dangerous practices. That trend may continue as firms hire more and more people new to the industry.

Construction employment

A report from the Associated General Contractors of America claims that construction employment is better than it has been since 2008. With many older workers having retired since then, firms fill the gaps with workers just leaving school or changing careers. If these workers do not get the safety training and education they need, the result is more accidents, more injuries and more deaths. An employee with insufficient training is a danger to him- or herself, as well as other workers on the job and even passers-by. 

What are the “fatal four” in construction?

With the rapid rise in construction fatalities in New York over the last decade, you may be like many people who are wondering what can be done to prevent any more tragedies. Researchers with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have determined that over 64 percent of all construction worker deaths are caused by certain accidents that they are terming the “fatal four.” Here is what you need to know about these so you can avoid serious accidents and injuries.

 

What are the most common life-threatening accidents at sea?

When it comes to jobs that take place while you are on a vessel, the accidents can be quite different than those on land in New York. The fact that you are miles out to sea and operating on a large ship means you will be presented with unique challenges that can also lead to dangerous circumstances. Marine Insight gives some of the most common situations you may face that can put your life in danger.

 

What is the most common cause of shipyard injuries?

When it comes to maintaining and repairing ships, the risks that are inherent with this profession are unique because of the type of work and positions that you are required to perform and hold. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that one of the biggest causes of injury in New York shipyards as well as others across the country comes from the necessity to complete hot work.

 

Are violations to blame for construction accidents?

A top concern for New York lawmakers has been the high rate of accidents on construction sites, which could lead to your serious injury or death. According to Insurance Journal, there have been almost 500 deaths of construction workers in New York City alone over the past decade. Officials have been seeking to lower this number with 18 bills currently attempting to make changes that will lead to safer work environments for construction workers.

 

The future of the Jones Act

Over the past several years, the Jones Act has come under fire for its role in high shipping costs and its influence on international maritime trade. However, this law offers protections for the maritime industry as a whole and for maritime workers in New York and elsewhere in the United States.

According to the Seafarers International Union, the Jones Act plays an important role in national security, environmental protection and worker safety and also ensures employment for skilled maritime workers. The Jones Act has jurisdiction over vessels transporting goods between domestic ports, and these vessels must be owned, built and crewed by Americans. This means that these ships—and their workers—must follow United States worker safety laws and environmental regulations.

Construction injuries and deaths on the rise

New York has laws in place to protect construction workers, but recent reports show that workers at construction sites are still highly vulnerable to workplace injuries and deaths. Furthermore, current data indicate that this trend will not be reversed anytime soon.

Section 240 of the New York labor law specifies that scaffolding, ladders, hoists and other devices needed for building erection, repair and demolition are to be designed in a way that provides adequate protection to construction workers. This means that scaffolding must be capable of withstanding four times the expected maximum weight. Furthermore, staging and scaffolding located more than 20 feet off the floor or ground must have safety rails and should not sway away from the building.

Injury, fatality fears rise ahead of shipbuilding business boom

The president is planning to make good on his campaign promise to considerably expand the U.S. Navy’s fleet of ships, but the move could spell trouble for shipyard workers across New York and the nation. Per Politico, while the shipbuilding business boom may be good for company profits, increased business often means more injuries and illnesses for workers. This is particularly concerning given that shipyard workers already face an illness and injury rate that trumps that of construction workers, another inherently dangerous job, by 80 percent.

Part of the problem may be linked to a lack of regulation in the industry. For example, there is no established system that exists between the armed forces and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that allows the Navy to search for safety violations at a shipbuilding company before awarding it a contract. Additionally, the military is limited in what companies it can use to build its fleet, as security concerns require that ships be made on American soil. 

Latino, nonunion construction workers face considerable risk

A report recently released by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety reveals that your risk of suffering injury as a resident and construction worker increases if you fall into one of two distinct categories. At Hofmann & Schweitzer, we have a firm understanding of the industry and the types of injuries that its workers often suffer, and we have helped numerous clients pursue workers’ compensation following construction site accidents.

According to Salon, your risk of a construction site accident increases if you are a Latino construction worker, or if you work for a nonunion company. Latino construction workers suffered nearly 60 percent of fall-related construction site fatalities in a recent one-year span, despite the fact that they only account for about 30 percent of the construction workforce.

A call for international maritime safety cooperation

Differing safety standards can make maritime work a dangerous endeavor. Experts gathered this week in London to discuss the need for evolving maritime safety regulations to be implemented internationally. Among the topics discussed was the need for new regulations and practices regarding safe mooring, as well as the need for changes in the guidelines concerning ship design and construction. The goal was to create the framework by which safety improvements will be made going forward.

Changes in the shipping industry

As commercial ships have grown larger, the need for reliable and universal safety standards has also increased. Global regulations have the power to power to protect maritime workers in any situation, and reduce reliance on local knowledge. Shipping will continue to change as technology evolves and only international cooperation can maintain the health and safety of all workers in the industry.

Fighting To Protect What Matters Most

You are not the only one who suffers after a serious accident. Crushing medical bills and lost wages can be devastating to your family for years.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

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