Excavator on a New York Construction SiteAn excavator machine can do the work of 20 construction workers, shortening the timeline of a particular project by weeks or more. Unfortunately, heavy machinery is a common contributor to severe or fatal construction site injuries in New York. State safety regulations have been put in place specifically for excavator use to cut down on the number of accidents and injuries involving operators and nearby employees.

NY Industrial Code Provisions for Excavators on Construction Sites

NY Labor Law 241 requires owners and contractors to make construction sites as safe as possible for workers. Under Section 241(6), owners and contractors must 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 specific construction safety rules in Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code to protect people employed in construction, demolition, or excavation. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. Tit. 12 § 23-9.5 set forth the following general provisions for excavating machines:

  • Footing. Excavating machines must not be used in any place where unstable conditions or slopes of the ground or grade cause the machine to tilt dangerously. Timber mats or equivalent means to afford stable footings must be provided to prevent unstable conditions.
  • Operator protection. Excavating equipment must have a cab or equivalent cover to protect operators from potential overhead hazards. The boom, bucket, dipper, or clamshell of a power shovel must not pass over the seat or cab of a truck or any other vehicle while any person is in the vehicle.
  • Operation. Excavating machines must be operated only by designated persons. Only the operating crew is permitted on an excavating device while it is in motion or operation. Only the pitman and excavating team are allowed to stand within range of the back of a power shovel or range of the swing of the dipper bucket while the shovel is in operation. If an excavating machine is not in use, the blade or dipper bucket must be rested on the ground. The operator may not leave the controls of an excavating machine at any time when the master clutch is engaged, and the engine is on. Oiling or greasing may be performed only while the excavating machine is at rest and the master clutch is disengaged.
  • Operation near power lines. Excavating machines may only be operated near power lines or power facilities if operations comply with New York safety guidelines.
  • Trenching. Materials must not be pushed manually into the path of trenching machines.
  • Parking. Operators of excavating machines may not leave the controls until the bucket or blade has been lowered into firm contact with the ground surface.
  • Backing. Every mobile power-operated excavating machine (except for crawler-mounted equipment) must have an approved warning device installed that automatically sounds a warning signal when the machine is backing up. This warning signal must be audible to all persons near the machine and above the general noise level in the area.

Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code also has general protections for excavation workers in Section 23-1.5. In particular, employers, owners, contractors, and their agents are responsible for providing reasonable and adequate protection for the health and safety of their employees. This includes a duty to provide safe working conditions, personal protective equipment, and compliant safety devices.

If an employer allowed workers to use any machinery that was not in safe working condition or allowed an incompetent worker to operate excavation equipment, they might be held liable for injury costs. Employers and site owners can also be held responsible if equipment safeguards were removed or site managers failed to ensure regular machinery maintenance.

Proudly Advising New York Construction Workers Who Are Hurt on the Job

If you or someone you love was hurt by an excavator on a construction site, the attorneys at Hofmann and Schweitzer could help. We determine whether a site owner or third party could be liable for your injury costs and fight to get you the maximum compensation you deserve. Call us today at 800-362-9329 to have us explain your next steps at no charge to you, or read our FREE guide, 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.