From the floors they walk on to the tools they use, construction workers face deadly hazards every day they report to work. Although employers have a duty to make the workplace as safe as possible, defects and negligence can place workers at risk—especially when it comes to unsafe equipment.
Common Types of Hand and Power Tool Injuries on Construction Sites
Thousands of people are rushed to emergency rooms every year as a result of power tool injuries, many of whom suffered accidents on the job. A construction worker can suffer amputation if electrical equipment is unguarded or poorly maintained, while a defective hand tool can cause broken bones or the loss of an eye. If employees cannot trust the tools an employer provides, they are overwhelmingly likely to suffer life-altering injuries.
The most common kinds of hand and power tool injuries involve:
Table saws, chain saws, reciprocating saws, and hand-held power saws all require extensive training in order to protect employees from injuring themselves or their coworkers. Power saws can be deadly if they are not safeguarded with automatic shut off controls or if blades are not inspected regularly for defects.
Many workers are impaled in the hand, foot, or limbs as a result of defective nail or staple guns, while others may be blinded by unintended discharge.
In order to prevent lacerations or puncture injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires hand-held drills to be equipped with pressure switches that shut off the power when pressure is released.
Hand-held sanders can spray dust and particles into a worker’s eyes and lungs, especially if the site is not equipped with exhaust fans or extractor hoses.
Respirators and eye protection are vital to protect employees from working spray guns that atomize paints and fluids.
Grinding and Polishing Tools
Portable grinding and buffing wheels pose a danger of flying particle injuries, but also severe abrasions if the tool’s guard has been modified or removed.
Any electrical or battery-operated tool has the potential to burn, shock, or electrocute an employee. Even a relatively minor shock can cause an employee to lose consciousness, fall from a height, or suffer heart failure.
Hammers, knives, scissors, shovels, axes, handsaws, and even screwdrivers can cause severe injury, especially if they are dropped from an elevated platform.
Compensation Available to Construction Workers Injured by Power Tools
In addition to collecting workers’ compensation for lost income and medical costs after a construction tool injury, employees could also be eligible to file a lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, many parties can be held responsible for the defective equipment or workplace conditions that led to the employee’s suffering, including:
The company who makes and distributes construction tools has a duty to make sure the tool has been properly designed, manufactured with the right materials, and labeled with adequate warnings about the known dangers of the tool. If a tool is inherently defective, the company could be subject to a product liability claim.
New York state labor laws allow construction workers to hold general contractors and third-party contractors liable for injuries caused by an unsafe workplace. If a supervisor failed in his duties—such as inspecting power tools regularly and flagging defective items—he may be liable for the costs of an injured worker’s medical bills and loss of earning capacity.
Section 200 of the New York Labor Law places a duty of care on property owners to provide a safe workplace to construction workers. If a worker is injured because a coworker was not properly trained, a safety guard was removed from a power tool, or the worksite was not equipped or arranged to prevent injury, the owner of the site can be sued for negligence.
There are many reasons construction workers should consider whether they could file an injury lawsuit in addition to collecting workers’ compensation. For instance, a successful lawsuit allows an injury victim to collect payment for pain and suffering, which is not offered through workers’ compensation. Legal action can also allow the employee to get compensation for disability or the loss of future wages if he is unable to work again. Finally, a lawsuit can require a person or company to change its practices, protecting future employees from unsafe working conditions.
If you were injured on a New York City job site, our construction injury attorneys can examine the facts of your case and work to get you the compensation you deserve. Fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with an injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today.