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New York Legal Blog

How is a claim made under the Longshore Act?

If you work in the maritime industry in New York, then it is important to understand the laws that protect you if you get injured while on the job. While traditional jobs are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, you have protection under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the LHWCA offers payment for injures if you work in a maritime occupation, excluding seamen.

If you get hurt on the job, you will need to file a claim under the LHWCA. It is your responsibility to alert your employer to your injury within 30 days of noticing symptoms or of the injury occurring. If it is a non-emergency situation, you should ask your employer for the proper form you must file to seek treatment and then get proper medical care. If your death is caused on the job, then your family will need to file a death benefits form to get compensation for your medical care and other benefits.

Will new regulations improve construction safety?

When the City Council of New York introduced the Construction Safety Act earlier this year, it was hoped that the measures would reduce the unacceptable number of fatalities and serious injuries suffered by workers. Construction workers suffer high rates of injury and death. In 2014, roughly 20 percent of all workplace fatalities came from the construction industry. The construction boom throughout New York City is putting pressure on an industry already suffering from an uneven safety record.

Unfortunately, some elements of the Construction Safety Act stirred controversy and took emphasis away from the goal of making things safer for workers. A battle over union versus nonunion contractors erupted due to a provision calling for apprenticeship programs for large-scale construction and demolition projects. These programs are generally run by or in conjunction with unions. Protests over the provision drew headlines having little to do with the importance of providing a safer environment for workers.

What are the dangers of the shipbreaking process

If you work in a shipyard as a shipbreaker, you may be aware of the dangers that your job entails. In fact, shipyard injuries are twice more common than construction injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. During the shipbreaking process, old vessels are dismantled to use for scrap metal or to throw away. The process itself can be complicated and challenging. After removing all of the equipment and gear in the old boat, the team cuts away at the ship’s structure. In addition to serious physical injuries, this process may cause certain environmental issues that you as a worker must be careful of while engaging in this dangerous work.

Before the vessel is dismantled, workers must crawl into cargo tanks and make sure they are clean. Workers may be subjected to explosions, fires and falls. They may also be exposed to hazardous gases and materials, such as coal, pesticides, fuel residue, lead paints, preservatives, asbestos, sewage, radioactive materials, cyanide and toxic byproducts. If you are not wearing the proper personal protective equipment, these materials can cause serious respiratory and physical ailments that may cause long-term damage.

Young man's death brings homicide charges

When employers force employees to work in unsafe conditions, they are putting innocent lives at risk. All employers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their employees. However, one small mistake, or many errors made over time can lead to the unexpected death of a worker and other fatal workplace accidents.

An 18-year-old construction worker lost his life and two others were seriously injured at a Brooklyn construction site in 2015, when the walls of an excavation site caved in. The work was allegedly being done in violation of permit restrictions and warnings that the worksite was unsafe. The employer was in direct violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements for stabilizing excavation sites. Furthermore, the workers lacked OSHA safety certifications and had little to no training. Even then workers protested that they needed stabilization in the cave before working.

Top 10 workplace safety violations -- construction workers beware

As every construction worker knows, there are few jobs as dangerous as those in the construction industry. Indeed, whether you are working with heavy machinery or up on scaffolding, your well-being is always at risk.

Since one wrong move on a construction site can result in serious injury -- or even death -- the government has created several safety laws and regulations designed to protect construction workers. Sadly, however, these laws are violated all the time, often to the detriment of the workers who rely upon them to keep them safe. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has even compiled a list of the top 10 most-cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2016, which include:

Scaffolding: Love it or hate it, it’s there for safety

Walk down nearly any street in New York City and you will quickly notice the many buildings and sidewalks covered in a large web of wood and metal scaffolding. In fact, as mentioned in a recent New York Times article, New York now has roughly 280 miles of scaffolding located throughout the city. There is even an online map you can use to track every project that is using outdoor scaffolding.

While it would be an understatement to say that some New Yorkers are frustrated by the forest of scaffolding covering the city’s sidewalks, the truth is that most of these structures are necessary to protect the safety of both the pedestrians below and the workers above.

OSHA seeks to update beryllium exposure guidelines

Ships and shipyards are home to a wide spectrum of hazardous substances, including beryllium. However, a recent rule proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration may minimize New York maritime workers’ chances of being exposed to dangerous levels of beryllium

According to the United States Department of Labor, beryllium is a metal commonly found in shipyards as well as in construction and general industries. This metal is used—often in a copper alloy—for its strength, hardness, resistance to corrosion and fatigue, and ability to conduct heat. However, beryllium is considered a carcinogen, and exposure to this metal has been correlated with lung cancer. Furthermore, inhalation of airborne beryllium can result in chronic beryllium disease, which can lead to lung scarring.

Future of Harwood grants iffy with budget cuts looming

Adequate training is an essential element of worker safety on New York construction sites, and it often requires financial support from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. However, OSHA’s funding relies on the budget of the Department of Labor, which may shrink under upcoming federal budget proposals, placing such training programs in jeopardy.

The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program provides funding to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to support the development of industry-based safety training, particularly for workers in hazardous sectors. Industrial Distribution reports that as of March of this year, the $11 million that is allocated the Harwood grant program was on course to be slashed.

Container ship toxins and your health

Although you may be from New Jersey or New York, your role on a container ship may take you all over the world. The U.S. National Institutes of Health reports that cargo moving from one country to another requires fumigation to prevent health hazards from being transported along with the goods, or to keep food from ripening too soon. Your exposure to these toxins could cause you serious problems. Our team at Hofmann & Schweitzer have counseled many seamen who have been affected by their work environment on container ships.

Working on a fumigated ship does not necessarily put you in danger. Your own physical sensitivities to the substances used play a role in how you respond to them. How long you are exposed to the toxins and how concentrated they are will also make a difference. Acute exposure could cause permanent health damage.

Fatigue at sea

When a New Jersey seaman leaves port, the commitment to the service of the vessel could include both day and nighttime duties. According to International Maritime Health, the shift work combined with conditions on the ship can interrupt a seaman’s internal schedule and prevent deep sleep, leading to fatigue.

Fatigue has been found directly related to accidents, injuries and fatalities at sea. The British Marine Investigation Branch studied hundreds of incidents that suggested a link between many collisions and other night accidents and fatigue of the person assigned to lookout duty. The U.S. Coast Guard also performed a study of 279 vessel accidents, and of the seamen affected by those incidents, 33 percent of the injuries and 16 percent of the deaths were fatigue related.

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.

Speak To An Attorney, Get Help.