Proper housekeeping and arrangement of materials on job sites are key to preventing New York construction accidents. A simple lack of cleanup during the workday can cause a wide range of injuries, including minor trips and broken toes to falls from several stories high. When these injuries occur, it’s important to understand who may be liable for the employee’s medical costs, income losses, and pain and suffering.
Section 23 Rules to Prevent Construction Injuries from Poor Housekeeping
NY Labor Law 241 requires owners and contractors to make construction sites as safe as possible for workers. Under Section 241(6), site owners and contractors have a duty to comply with any rules made by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to carry out the provisions of the law.
The Department of Labor has created several construction safety rules, such as Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code. Part 23-2.1 requires maintenance and housekeeping practices on job sites, including appropriate:
Storage of materials.
All building materials must be stored in a safe and orderly manner. Materials may be piled as long as piles are stable under all conditions, and located in a manner where they do not obstruct any passageway, walkway, stairway, or other thoroughfare.
Fall and collapse protection.
Materials and equipment cannot be stored on any floor, platform, or scaffold in such a weight or quantity that could exceed the safe carrying capacity of the surface. Materials and equipment must not be placed or stored close enough to the edge of a floor, platform, or scaffold that its placement could endanger any person beneath such edge.
Disposal of debris.
Debris cannot be handled or disposed of by methods that could endanger any person employed in the disposal area or any person lawfully frequenting such area.
OSHA Standards for Construction Housekeeping Practices
In addition to state laws, The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created safety standards for housekeeping on construction sites. These include:
Noncombustible scrap materials, form and scrap lumber with protruding nails, and all other debris must be kept cleared from areas where construction, alteration, or repairs are being performed. In addition to clearing active work areas, all passageways, stairs, and areas in and around buildings or other structures must be kept clear of debris.
Removal of combustible materials.
Combustible scrap and debris must be removed at regular intervals during the course of construction work. Employers are responsible for facilitating regular trash and debris removal in a manner that prevents unnecessary hazard exposure to employees who remove such debris.
Containers must be provided for the separate collection of trash (nontoxic), hazardous waste, oily and used rags, and other refuse according to destination or method of disposal. These containers must be equipped with covers to prevent sparks or other ignition sources from making contact with waste materials. All trash and other waste must be disposed of at frequent and regular intervals.
Keeping a job site tidy may seem like an easy way to avoid injuries, but simple actions can get lost in the daily bustle of construction work. A contractor may lean a shovel against a wall or leave a power tool on the edge of a table intending to pick it up momentarily, only to be called away to a different part of the site. An extension cord laid across a doorway, a hammer set down near the edge of a scaffold, or waste containers placed near exposed wires are all accidents waiting to happen—and when they do, workers will need all the help they can get to recover.
If you were injured by poor housekeeping practices, your employer or site owner could be liable for the costs related to the accident. The person who caused your injury may also be subject to penalties for violations of state law or OSHA regulations. Our injury attorneys can explain your options in your no-cost consultation, and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Hofmann & Schweitzer today or learn more about your rights in our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.