close-up of stadium under constructionOne of the biggest construction projects in the country right now, the new Buffalo Bills stadium in Orchard Park, NY, is underway. This is an impressive feat of engineering and design, but it also comes with significant risks for the workers involved. From towering structures to complex installations, stadium construction poses various hazards that demand careful attention to safety protocols. If you or a loved one was injured while working on the stadium project, you will need legal representation to ensure you get the medical care and compensation you deserve.

As construction accident lawyers serving New York and New Jersey, we understand how to make New York’s unique labor laws work to your greatest benefit, whether you are ready to pursue a personal injury case or a claim under New York Labor Law 240 and 241(6). 

According to New York Labor Law Section 241(6), construction, excavation, and demolition work shall be done in a way that provides reasonable and adequate protection and safety to the people doing the work. Reasonable safety precautions are detailed in Part 23 of Title 12 of the New York Codes, some of which are discussed below.

Common Injuries on an Uncommon Worksite

A job like building the next state-of-the-art NFL stadium doesn’t come along every day. If you are one of the 10,000 workers projected to be needed on the Orchard Park site, you might feel lucky and proud to have gotten the job. However, if you are injured while performing your job duties, you might be owed more than just workers’ compensation.

Typical injuries that can happen on projects of this size when safety is not a top priority include the following.

Falls From Heights

Stadiums are often massive structures with multiple levels, and workers frequently find themselves working at great heights. Falls from scaffolding, cranes, or other elevated platforms can lead to severe injuries or fatalities. To mitigate this risk, it is crucial to provide proper fall protection equipment such as harnesses, guardrails, and safety nets. Regular training on the correct use of this equipment is essential to keep workers safe.

New York Labor Law 240 requires property owners and contractors to protect construction workers while they work on scaffolding. The Scaffold Law mandates that any scaffolding positioned more than 20 feet above ground level must be equipped with a securely bolted safety rail running the entire length and at both ends, and the scaffold must be secured to prevent swaying. Additionally, scaffolding must have the capacity to support a load four times greater than the combined weight of individuals and objects placed on it. Under this law, workers who sustain injuries due to falls from heights or being struck by falling objects have the right to pursue legal action. 

Other New York laws and regulations also protect construction workers who work at heights. For example, 12 CRR-NY 23-8.1 provides specific safety regulations for workers on mobile cranes, tower cranes, and derricks. These regulations require construction employers to take certain steps regarding the erection, inspection, and operation of cranes and derricks. Additionally, there are safety regulations regarding the construction and capacity of each crane or derrick.

Structural Collapse

The construction of stadium structures involves intricate engineering and precise assembly. Any mistakes or oversights in the construction process can result in structural failures. These collapses can cause injuries or fatalities to workers on or near the site. Rigorous quality control, regular inspections, and adherence to engineering plans are vital in preventing structural accidents.

Heavy Machinery Accidents

Stadium construction sites are filled with heavy machinery such as cranes, bulldozers, and excavators. Accidents involving these machines can be catastrophic. To prevent accidents, operators must receive proper training and certification, and safety zones should be clearly marked to keep other workers out of harm's way.

12 CRR-NY 23-9.5 requires excavating machines to have proper footings to avoid unstable conditions and a cab or overhead protection if there are overhead hazards. Only designated people should use excavating machines and they must follow operation regulations. All excavating machines should have a warning signal to prevent back-over accidents.

Bulldozers and other heavy machines are also regulated by 12 CRR-NY 23-9. 12 CRR-NY 23-9.2 requires that all power-operated equipment be properly maintained, operated, and loaded. Workers should be protected from moving parts, engine exhaust, and rollover accidents. 

Electrical Hazards

Stadiums are equipped with extensive electrical systems to power lighting, audiovisual equipment, and more. Workers may face electrical hazards when working on wiring, lighting, or electrical panels. Proper lockout or tagout procedures, regular equipment inspections, and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) are essential for minimizing the risk of electrical accidents.

Furthermore, 12 CRR-NY 23-1.13 requires property owners and contractors to protect construction workers from electrical hazards by:

  • Assuming all power lines are energized
  • Determining the voltage of all power lines near the site before work begins
  • Posting and maintaining warning signs about the location of electrical power circuits
  • Protecting employees from electric shock by de-energizing circuits or guarding them
  • Communicating with the proper utility companies before work is done
  • Providing special protections for temporary electric power circuits and high-voltage power circuits

Confined Spaces

Some aspects of stadium construction, such as utility installations and maintenance tunnels, require workers to enter confined spaces. These spaces can be hazardous due to limited access and potential hazards like toxic gases or insufficient oxygen levels.  12 CRR-NY 23-1.7(g) requires that the air in confined spaces be tested before work begins. Workers should receive confined space training, and safety measures, such as adequate ventilation and rescue plans, should be in place.

Material Handling and Falls From Equipment

The assembly of stadiums involves handling heavy building materials and equipment. Workers can be at risk of injury if they are struck by moving equipment or materials. It's crucial to establish designated pathways for materials handling, implement proper communication between equipment operators and ground personnel, and provide workers with high-visibility clothing and helmets to prevent accidents.

In addition to these specific hazards, stadium construction projects also involve general construction risks such as exposure to extreme weather conditions, hazardous materials, and strenuous physical demands. To protect workers, comprehensive safety programs, regular safety meetings, and ongoing safety training are indispensable.

What to Do if You Are Injured

The Bills stadium construction project is great for New York and for the construction industry, but it comes with inherent dangers for the workers involved. Recognizing and addressing these hazards through diligent safety measures, proper training, and a commitment to best practices is crucial in ensuring the well-being of employees. If you were injured while working on the Orchard Park project, reach out to our team in Manhattan to find out how we can help you get fair compensation.

Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.
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