Construction Accidents FAQs
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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency responsible for promulgating safety rules for the workplace. OSHA also enforces those rules and investigates workplace accidents and injuries. The violation of an OSHA rule does not always equal negligence for the purpose of a third-party lawsuit. However, when OSHA rules are violated or ignored, it is often a good indicator that negligent conduct played a role in a workplace injury.
New York Labor Law 240, often referred to as the “Scaffold Law,” is a statute that was enacted in the late 1800s and is intended to protect construction workers from elevation-related injuries. Specifically, the law holds employers, contractors, and some property owners absolutely liable for injuries that are the result of a fall or other elevation-related accident at a construction site. An injured worker does not need to prove negligence in order to be entitled to compensation under the Scaffold Law.
According to figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the construction industry consistently ranks No. 2 in workplace fatalities, with only the transportation industry having more fatal workplace accidents each year. Construction sites are inherently hazardous due to the nature of the work done there. Everyone must be particularly vigilant about safety. Common construction site accidents that result in injuries to workers or bystanders include:
- Scaffold injuries – Scaffolding is frequently used on construction projects. If the scaffolding is not properly installed, not properly maintained and repaired, or if proper safety equipment is not used, a worker could fall and get hurt.
- Crane accidents – Numerous crane accidents in New York over the past decade prompted authorities to enact tougher crane operator laws. Despite this, crane accidents continue to injure workers and bystanders.
- Falls – According to BLS, falls are the No. 1 source of construction accident fatalities each year. A fall from a roof or other heights can cause serious injuries. Even a fall from a relatively low elevation can be dangerous. BLS statistics indicate that two-thirds of all fatal falls occurred from a height of less than 15 feet.
- Electrical injuries – Construction workers are often exposed to live electrical wires both above and below ground. Contact may result in burns or electrical shock injuries, including fatal electrocution.
- Excavation accidents – Construction work often includes excavating a site prior to building on it. A worker in an excavation area can be injured if it caves in or if something falls into the hole and hits the worker.
- Falling objects – Construction sites often require working several stories above other workers below. Even something small, such as a nail, that falls from a height could seriously injure a worker below. Heavier objects can be deadly.
- Equipment/tool malfunction – Power tools and hand tools are found on all construction sites, and large machinery is often present. Any of these can cause a serious construction accident resulting in injuries to a worker.
Yes, in some situations. A worker who is injured in a construction accident in Rochester could be entitled to benefits through a third-party lawsuit under certain circumstances. Third-party lawsuits are based on negligence and are similar to other types of personal injury lawsuits. If someone other than your employer or co-worker caused or contributed to your injuries, then you could be entitled to compensation. Because construction sites are often chaotic and have numerous companies working in the same area at the same time, it is possible that someone other than your employer was responsible for your injuries. Examples of other potential responsible parties include:
- General contractors
- Other sub-contractors
- Property owners
- Property managers
- Equipment leasing companies
- Third-party maintenance companies
- Delivery companies.
- Commercial property owners may also have special responsibilities to construction workers under New York’s Labor Law. Workers injured while doing certain projects on non-residential properties may seek compensation from the property owner.
An injured construction worker could be entitled to benefits that will cover the cost of medical treatment related to the injury, as well as wage-replacement benefits. Wage-replacement benefits are limited to two-thirds of the claimant’s average weekly wage, multiplied by the percent of disability, and certain caps may apply.
I was injured while working at a construction site in Rochester. Could I be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?
Someone who is injured in a construction accident while on the job may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in New York. The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, meaning that an injured worker does not have to prove that the employer was negligent, or that the employer did anything wrong, in order to qualify for benefits.