Who is responsible when an injury results from improper safety equipment?

Construction Worker Holding an Orange Hard Hat on a Construction SiteAlthough safety measures prevent hundreds of construction worker deaths every year, some employers still prioritize speed over safety. Employees who are injured due to lax construction site safety are not only eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, they may also have a negligence claim against the site owner, construction manager, contractor, or even the employer.

Liability for Injuries Due to Faulty Construction Safety Equipment

The first thing an employer should do is perform a hazard assessment for the job site and the specific work being performed. For example, if painting or welding is taking place on the facade of a structure, employers are required to install and provide safety harnesses and adequate scaffolding.

Construction worker injuries can often result from safety violations such as:

  • Failure to provide PPE. Both state and federal laws require construction employees to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). A 2008 OSHA ruling mandated that employers pay for certain personal protective equipment for all of its workers, including metatarsal foot protection, rubber boots with steel toes, hard hats, hearing protection, non-prescription eye protection (goggles and face shields), welding PPE, all firefighting PPE (helmets, gloves, boots, proximity suits, full gear), and any necessary prescription eyewear inserts or lenses for full-face respirators. If a worker provides his or her own PPE, the employer has a duty to ensure that the equipment is adequate to protect the worker from the specific hazards of the workplace.
  • Failure to provide adequate safety equipment. Contractors and employers can be liable when equipment fails or is never issued, but also for their failure to instruct employees on the proper use of safety equipment, failing to ensure compliance in wearing PPE and following safety measures at all times, failing to ensure attendance for safety training sessions, failing to inspect safety equipment regularly, and failing to repair or replace any safety measure that has been reported as faulty.
  • Unsafe working conditions. Site owners may be held partially responsible for allowing an unsafe work environment to continue operating, especially if the owner has a degree of influence of control over the work being performed. Common oversights such as a lack of emergency first aid kits or the required number of fire alarms or extinguishers can lead to code violations and potential liability in an injury case.

If you have been injured on a New York City construction site, our attorneys can fight to get you the compensation you are owed—and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a personal injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.

 

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