Construction work is a dangerous business, and Manhattan construction workers face many hazards. You operate under treacherous conditions on any given day, such as working several feet off the ground, removing hazardous substances, and driving heavy machinery.
These conditions come with the territory. Most of the time, property owners and general contractors take many precautions to ensure workers have a safe environment in which to work. However, accidents can and do still happen at construction sites.
Manhattan Construction Accidents
The NYC Department of Buildings received 243 construction-related accident reports in Manhattan in 2022. These reports, filed by contractors or people in charge of building sites, represent incidents that resulted in an injury or fatality. Local Law 78 of 2017 mandates that property owners or other responsible parties must report these incidents to the New York DOB within three business days.
Manhattan had, by far, the most construction accidents of the five boroughs in 2022. (Brooklyn was in second place with 140.) Sadly, these accidents resulted in 255 injuries and one fatality.
What Causes Construction Site Accidents?
Many factors can lead to an accident on a construction site. Some of the reasons listed on the DOB reports include the following:
- Falling materials
- Excavation or soil work
- Failure or misuse of construction equipment
- Employee falling due to failed safety equipment or inattention
- Construction equipment misuse or failure
Common Construction Site Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of death in construction accidents. They account for more than one in three industry fatalities.
Other common hazards construction workers experience on the job are:
- Heavy machinery or equipment accidents
- Falling objects
- Explosions or fires
- Building and trench collapses
- Crush hazards
Keeping Construction Employees Safe at Work
New York has many laws in place to protect the safety of construction workers. Here are a few highlights.
Site Safety Managers and Coordinators
NYC Building Code 3301.3 states that construction sites must have a site safety manager or safety coordinator designated and present during the demolition or construction of a major building. The law further requires a construction superintendent to be present at other construction or demolition sites.
Worksite Attendance Records
Local Law 196 of 2017 mandates that contractors must keep logs of everyone who accesses the work site. These logs must record workers, safety personnel, security guards and anyone else present. Furthermore, anyone who has access must have the proper safety training.
Required Safety Training Hours
Local Law 196 of 2017 also states that construction workers at major sites must have completed Site Safety Training. As of 2020, workers at sites that require a designated construction superintendent, site safety manager, or site safety coordinator must have at least 40 hours of training. Supervisors require 62 hours of Site Safety Training.
New York City Building Code 3301.4 requires inspecting every structure, temporary construction, equipment and operation. Inspection must happen at the beginning and regular intervals throughout the job duration.
Unsafe Equipment and Conditions
Responsible parties must remove any equipment, structure or operation deemed unsafe or defective. This step ensures the safety of the public as well as site workers.
NYC Building Code 3303 outlines the requirements for site safety and maintenance. They include safety procedures for factors such as:
- Water supply
- Fire prevention
- Material and debris removal
- Daily housekeeping to clear debris from floors, working decks and roofs
Required Security at a Construction Site
New York City Building Code 3303 also requires sites larger than 5,000 square feet to have a watch person on duty when operations are not in progress. The person must have a security guard registration on file with the state of New York.
The watch person must also have a fire guard certificate from the fire department and understand emergency notification procedures for the fire department. In addition, the watch person must complete the required safety training if the site is for a major building.
The law requires another watch person for each additional 40,000 square feet. In sites that require more than one watch person, the commissioner can approve a reduction if responsible parties meet certain conditions. These conditions include video monitoring, alarm system, or continuous line of sight through the building.
Why Do Construction Sites Need Security?
Demolition and construction sites are susceptible to security breaches. They exist out in the open or have multiple entrances. In an unsecured area, partially constructed buildings, equipment and supplies are vulnerable to vandalism, theft and mischief.
Without adequate security, thieves or vandals can enter the site after hours. They can put themselves at risk by climbing on scaffolding, heavy equipment or piles of building materials. They can also make job site conditions unsafe for workers and the public. They can do so by creating debris, breaking locks or fences, tampering with lighting, starting a fire, or doing any other damage they may think of.
Security Measures for Construction Sites
Other than the required after-hours watch personnel, additional security measures for construction sites can assist with the safety of workers and the public. Examples include the following:
- Security fencing around the site perimeter
- Solid and high-quality locks on gates
- Good lighting at night
- Warning signs
- Locked equipment, oil and gas tanks, and expensive building materials
Who Is Responsible for Construction Site Safety and Security?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration law states that employers are responsible for worker safety. Employers must provide conditions that include:
- A work site that complies with OSHA standards and is free from recognizable hazards
- Safe equipment and tools
- Color-coded signage
- Safety training
- Records of work-related injuries and incidents
Employees have the responsibility of adhering to OSHA laws, regulations and practices.
Penalties for Violations
When laws are violated at a construction site, the contractor, property owner, or other parties involved in unsafe practices may face fines and penalties. They may have to delay the construction project or stop work altogether. In extreme cases, the contractor may lose the operation license. These measures are put in place to protect workers from harmful job site conditions.
What To Do After a Construction Accident
If you are a worker who experienced an injury on the job, you may need help with what to do. Your priority following a construction accident is to seek medical attention. Once you’ve done that, you should report the incident to your employer. Hopefully, your employer will handle the situation responsibly.
Sometimes, an employer or insurance agent may take advantage of employees unfamiliar with their rights. They may try to get you to sign a waiver that limits them. If you have questions about your case, you can seek advice from a construction accident lawyer. Your attorney can help you through the claim from beginning to end and work to defend your rights. You can focus on healing from your injuries while your attorney handles the details of your claim.
The attorneys at Cellino Law are familiar with New York City construction laws and regulations. They have also faced construction insurance companies and know their tactics. If you want more information about your construction injury case, call Cellino Law today. We provide you with a free case review. You only pay us if you win your claim, so there’s no initial risk. Call today for more information.
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