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Audit Finds NYC Department of Buildings is Failing to Protect Construction Workers on Building Sites

Dec 9, 2022 | 0 comments

Recently, a New York City construction worker fell from a 15th floor scaffold to the sidewalk below, and died. It is not clear whether he was wearing any form of fall protection equipment when he did. 

According to New York State Comptroller audits, the Department of Buildings needs to be more aggressive in its oversight, inspections, and use of enforcement powers to make sure violations are corrected to help prevent construction-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities. 

Each year, roughly 26% of all worker deaths happen in construction. There are many more injuries.

Every year, we represent construction workers who are entitled, not just to their workers compensation awards, but also to personal injury awards because third parties did not meet their safety obligations on the job site. Safety oversights keep us busy.

The report also found that nearly 90% of active NYC construction sites had safety issues. Many projects continue even after safety violations are found, such as the Myrtle Point development in Queens, where one worker has already died, and four have already been injured. At that particular site, a Department of Buildings inspector visited the site and observed no safety measures to safeguard workers. Let that sink in a second—no safety measures. The project has been slapped with stop-work orders, but construction has continued anyway. This particular building has engaged in so many egregious violations that responsible parties may even be eligible for criminal prosecution. 

Contractors and building owners are responsible for ensuring construction sites are safe enough to work on. One issue is that the conditions on construction sites do change rapidly, and there’s no guidance on how quickly responsible parties must respond to and correct hazards.

Part of the problem is just plain greed. Some contractors simply don’t want to spend money on safety measures. In addition, there is a booming market for fake safety training cards for New York City construction workers. This means there an awful lot of workers on the job who haven’t had their required 10 hours of training approved by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Many of these deaths were wholly preventable, linked to issues that would have been corrected had the workers had proper safety training.

Real OSHA training costs up to $300. A black market fake card costs roughly $60. It’s not hard to see why fake cards would be tempting to workers. 

Currently there’s a buy-back going on: workers can turn in their fake cards no questions asked to get the ten hours of training for free, and a new, legitimate card. OSHA is also creating cards that are more difficult to fake. 

There is a law being proposed that will raise minimum corporate fines to $300,000 for misdemeanors and $500,000 for felonies in an effort to hold criminally negligent employers accountable. 

We’re not sure anything will really incentivize employers to avoid negligence. All we know is that as personal injury attorneys specializing in construction cases, we’re here to hold these people accountable every single time they fail to protect workers, visitors, and other people who might be caught in the crossfire of safety violations . If they’re going to keep endangering the life and limb of their workers, then we’re going to keep pursuing compensation on behalf of the families and bodies their negligence is tearing apart. 

We can help because:

  • We know construction safety site regulations, which means we can immediately pinpoint when responsible parties have fallen short of those regulations.
  • There is a web of responsible parties at construction sites, and we help untangle that web to figure out who can be sued for your injuries.
  • We issue the appropriate demand letters to start the process of getting you paid.
  • We help track down the evidence that supports your case and increases the worth of your case. 
  • Give you the advice and instruction that can help you maximize pain and suffering awards.

When you’ve been injured in a construction accident, you’ll be going after oligarchs who are far more powerful than you. You need an advocate who can put the full weight of the law on your side. 

We can’t force these companies and interests to treat their workers better, but we can help when their negligence creates tragic results.

Have you or a loved one been injured or killed in a construction accident? There’s no value in waiting to pursue a case. Reach out to our office to schedule a free case review today. 

See also:

Workers’ Compensation Benefits May Not Be Your Only Remedy if Injured on the Job

Workers’ Compensation Does Not Always Prevent You From Bringing a Personal Injury Lawsuit if You Are Injured at Work

 1 Construction Worker Dead, 3 Injured in Latest Scaffold Incident 


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