Construction workers regularly interact with machinery that requires complex procedures and years of training to operate safely. While this equipment is an integral part of building, demolition, restoration, and other construction projects, it is also a major cause of construction employee injuries on the job.
Common Heavy Machinery Accidents on Construction Sites
Construction machinery ranges from motorized scissor lifts to bulldozers weighing up the 100 tons, and each one poses a different risk to workers. These machines can cause deadly injuries to operators as well as the people in their path—and a malfunction in one of the machine’s component parts makes these kinds of accidents extremely likely.
Construction workers may suffer injuries from all kinds of motorized or gas-powered heavy equipment, including:
- Bulldozers. Bulldozers are invaluable when it comes to moving heavy loads and leveling uneven ground, but defects in tracks and electrical systems can injure workers inside and outside the vehicle.
- Forklifts. Malfunctioning forklifts can result in crush injuries to nearby workers or a rollover accident that injury or kills the forklift operator.
- Backhoes. Excavation projects can result in injuries due to defects in the backhoe’s arm or miscalculations in the load allowance or balance.
- Hoists. Defects in the chain or pulley used to operate a hoist can result in a sudden dropping of cargo onto workers below.
- Cranes. It wouldn’t be possible to erect the high-rise buildings of the New York City skyline without cranes. Unfortunately, crane failure is a common cause of fatal construction accidents—especially when a crane collapses and injures multiple people.
- Aerial lifts. Boom-supported lifts such as bucket trucks and cherry pickers carry the twin hazards of falls and vehicle accidents, while smaller scissor lifts are at high risk of tip-over accidents.
- Loaders. Front-end loaders need a variety of failsafes to prevent injuring workers around them, while skid loaders must be equipped with seat belts and rollover protection to protect the operator inside.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Construction Injury Caused by Heavy Machinery?
Under state and federal laws, a variety of people can share the blame for a construction accident caused by faulty equipment. Almost all machinery accidents are the result of negligence, and determining the negligent party (or parties) is the first step to determining who is liable for a victim’s injury costs.
For example, the person responsible for your injuries will depend on whether the accident involved:
- Defective equipment. If the equipment you were using was poorly designed, not manufactured correctly, or did not carry adequate warnings about the risk of danger, you may have a third-party case against the seller or distributor of the defective machinery. If the machine relied on a component part that failed during operation (such as brakes, pumps, cables, chains, belts, lines, guards, or hoses), you may sue the manufacturer of the part as well as the company that sold the machine.
- Improper repair or maintenance. Construction companies may outsource the repair and maintenance of their machines to third-party mechanics. The equipment should be examined carefully after an accident to see if recent repairs were inadequate or if improper replacement parts (including bolts and screws) were installed.
- An unsafe workplace. New York State law allows employees to hold contractors, construction managers, and property owners liable for injuries that occur on an unsafe workplace. Many different actions and inactions can contribute to an unsafe work environment, such as removing guards from a machine, failing to inspect equipment regularly, ignoring employee concerns about a piece of equipment, or failure to perform proper cleanup and housekeeping practices. Contractors may also be liable for the errors caused by untrained employees, such as coworkers who used machinery in a way that was inadequate for the task. Owners and managers may also bear responsibility if employees were not provided with proper protective equipment (such as goggles, nets, or safety harnesses).
If you were injured while working on a New York City construction site, you may be able to file an injury lawsuit in addition to collecting workers’ compensation. Fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a construction injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today.