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What is the 3-point contact rule?

While the construction industry is fraught with dangers, one of the most common is falls. Think of your New York construction worksite and all the possible places where a fall can occur. These include falls from ladders, scaffolding and even heavy equipment. Many actually happen when a person is getting on and off of equipment or ladders. Due to this, the three-point contact rule was created to lessen the chances of a fall.

According to Westfield Insurance, the three-point contact rule means having a combined total of three hands and feet on the items being climbed at all times. This could be both feet and a hand or both hands and a foot. Until you reach the ground, you should always maintain this three-point contact because it provides the most stability.

What laws protect cruise ship employees?

While it may be assumed that U.S. maritime laws cover employees working aboard a cruise ship with a home port in the country, this is usually not the reality of the situation. You may be surprised to learn that many cruise lines are incorporated in other countries, making them immune to U.S. laws and regulations, according to CNN.

If you work aboard one of the largest cruise lines leaving port from the U.S., you are likely working under the labor laws of a foreign country. This means the Bureau of Workers' Compensation and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration cannot help you if you have been injured. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and general labor laws are helpless to regulate how you are treated. It is a something that is not often advertised about these industries, but that will surely show up in any employment contract.

Are construction accidents on the rise in New York?

If you work in the construction field in New York, you likely already know how dangerous it can be. You are right to be concerned about your safety, though. While this industry is highly regulated and monitored by various government agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, accidents still happen. In fact, according to the Daily News, construction accidents are on the rise these days in the state.

It is not exactly surprising that as the number of building projects increase so do the number of accidents. What is surprising and may frustrate you is this rise in calamities has been linked to the reduction in the number of safety inspections being done by OSHA. The number of OSHA inspections went from 2,722 in 2011 to 1,966 in 2015. In that same time, the number of fatalities for construction workers went from 33 to 55 statewide.

Do OSHA fines keep workers safe?

The death of a demolition worker in New York spawned an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The investigation led OSHA to cite the man’s employer for a serious violation. That level of citation is reserved for incidents where an employer allows a workplace hazard that is likely to result in death or serious injury. That serious violation, which cost a man his life, led to an OSHA fine of $8,149. The employer has the right to contest the fine.

Addressing irresponsible employers

Queens construction site collapse injures three workers

It may be well-known amongst those working in construction in Queens that their industry ranks among the most dangerous. The materials that they use, the elements that they are subjected to, and the conditions of their job sites all contribute to this distinction. Given the risk that construction workers face, contractors and foremen have a responsibility to ensure that they are thoroughly protected from any risks that the job may pose. A failure to meet this expectation could not only result in liability claims, but also professional penalties like license suspensions and disassociations.

A construction company based here in Queens is currently having to learn this lesson the hard way. After having been slapped with 14 public safety violations in the last two years alone, the company has been barred from working in the city by the Department of Buildings in the wake of a recent site accident. Three workers sustained serious injuries following a floor collapse. DOB investigators discovered that the firm’s superintendent allowed cinderblocks and other heavy materials to be stored on a newly completed and still unstable upper floor. The weight of the items eventually caused the floor to collapse through the lower floors and all the way to the structure’s basement where the three injured men were working.

Summer safety: Boating accidents

Across New York, many celebrate the summer by heading to the water. Boating can be a fun way to spend the day, but it can be dangerous or even deadly if done improperly. According to CBS New York, in the summer children are actually twice as likely to be injured, and in 2016 there were over 700 fatalities due to boating across the country.

Although nothing may sound more relaxing than a day on a boat with a drink in hand, experts warn that it is important to remember that alcohol doesn't lose its effects in water. Driving a boat under the influence is just as dangerous as driving a car while intoxicated. The consequences are equally real, so in order to protect those on the water, it is important to take whatever precautions are possible.

How Safe Are New York Workers?

According to the National Safety Council, preventable deaths in the United States are at an all-time high. The NSC estimates that preventable accidents claimed the lives of 140,000 people last year. These accidents include car wrecks, workplace accidents, community or premises liability accidents and more. 

The NSC used the data on accidental deaths to assign grades to all 50 states regarding their efforts to protect residents from preventable deaths and injuries. The report assigned grades, ostensibly from A to F, to categorize each state's approach. No state earned an A grade. New York finished in the middle of the pack and earned a C grade.

Construction and the culture of safety

If you've ever worked construction, there is a pretty good chance you've seen companies and workers take shortcuts that impacted safety. Doing things the safe way, the right way, often involves time, resources and effort that many employers and some workers would rather not spend.

Safety equipment can be cumbersome. It may make a task more difficult or slower to complete. Employers often turn a blind eye to safety violations if they believe it serves the interest of speed. Similarly, they may be slow to update safety equipment and be lax in their efforts to ensure that the entire workforce is properly trained on safety. Each violation makes the next easier to explain away. This often continues until someone is seriously injured or killed.

How common are scaffolding injuries?

As someone who makes a living at New York construction sites, you may spend a considerable amount of time working on or around scaffolding. When installed and erected correctly, scaffolding provides a safe access point from which you can build or renovate new or existing buildings, but if scaffolding is not properly erected or maintained, the results can prove dangerous and even deadly.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, more than 60 construction workers like you lose their lives every year because of accidents relating to scaffolding, and another 4,500 or so suffer injuries. In one study, more than 70 percent of those injured in scaffolding-related incidents attributed their injuries to slipping, having falling objects hit them or having the planking or other scaffolding support system give way underneath them.

Complications associated with chemical burns

If you make your living as a New York construction worker or in any other type of profession where you might deal with potentially hazardous chemicals, it is important to understand the causes, symptoms and treatment methods associated with chemical burns. At Hofmann & Schweitzer, we have a firm grasp of the types of injuries and impairments that often arise because of chemical burns, and we have helped many clients who have experienced medical hardship after suffering chemical burns in the workplace.

If you believe you suffered a chemical burn at work but you are not entirely sure, notes that you should be on the lookout for symptoms that may include pain or numbness in the affected area. Vision chances, too, may develop if you believe chemicals might have entered your eyes. You will also want to keep an eye out for skin irritation or redness, or skin that appears blackened or dead, which is particularly common if your chemical burn was the result of acid exposure.

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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