Safety Standards Must Be Enforced to Protect Construction Workers
State and federal safety regulations exist to protect New York's construction workers.
June 29, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- New York construction workers face hazards every day they are on the job. Fortunately, federal laws set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state safety regulators are there to help keep construction sites as safe as possible.
In one recent case that highlights the importance of vigilant safety enforcement on the jobsite, a worker fell 80 feet from a 118-foot high scaffold. The preliminary OSHA investigation found several serious violations of safety regulations that, if followed, might have prevented the accident. The company for whom the victim was working now faces tens of thousands of dollars in fines for failing to comply with workplace safety rules.
Enforcement of Safety Standards
The masonry contractor who fell sustained serious injuries, but is expected to recover. OSHA discovered that the victim's employer -- Navillus Contracting Inc. -- did not install guardrails or a complete plank floor on the scaffold platform. The investigation also revealed that the platform designed to give workers a safe way to access the scaffold platform was not adequately secured, workers were climbing the scaffold frame rather than using a separate ladder or elevator to access the higher floors, and one employee's safety harness was not properly anchored.
Navillus was cited for failing to comply with several workplace safety regulations designed to prevent serious injury or death to workers. The preliminary OSHA report includes proposed citations with fines of nearly $40,000. Since Navillus had received a similar citation for lack of guardrails at a Bronx construction site in 2008, OSHA could have levied a $38,500 fine for that repeat violation alone.
Obtaining Justice for Injured Workers
In New York, construction workers enjoy not only the protections offered by federal OSHA regulations, but also those provided by the state "Scaffold Law." First enacted in 1885, the law predates OSHA rules by nearly a century. The Scaffold Law is a wide-ranging one that does not apply solely to scaffolds used on construction sites; the title of the law is a bit of a misnomer, and it actually covers workers injured while performing any manner of work at an elevation of more than 18 inches above the ground.
The Scaffold Law, the last remaining such state law in the nation, is under attack by builders organizations and tort reformers who claim the law is not needed. They argue that federal OSHA regulations provide adequate protection for workers, and decry the fact that the law doesn't contemplate forgiving an employer's strict liability if the employee himself is solely to blame for the injury. A bill to change the law is currently being considered in the state legislature, opposed by trade unions and plaintiff's attorneys.
Whether or not the Scaffold Law remains in place, New York employers must be held accountable when their negligence causes injury or death. OSHA has emphasized that employers must work to eliminate on-the-job hazards, and ignoring OSHA standards is hardly an acceptable strategy for any employer.
Anyone who is injured in construction work can benefit from hiring a capable personal injury attorney. It is possible to recover compensation not only for medical care, but also for loss of wages and pain and suffering.
Article provided by Schonberg Law Offices of the Hudson Valley, P.C.
Visit us at www.schonberglaw.com
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