Construction safety has been getting a lot of attention lately with all of the construction accidents in the news. Some New York construction workers have been killed and others injured and forced to seek workers’ compensation for their unnecessary injuries. Sometimes blatant building permit violations are to blame or sometimes even an unscrupulous manager knowingly hiring an inexperienced crane operator. Crane accidents have been especially problematic, with nine people killed since March. What is the city doing to prevent further deaths and disabilities?
New Construction Safety Measures
Several bills have been passed recently in order to improve the dangerous construction climate in New York. These include:
- A bill to allow buildings inspectors to classify maintenance violations as immediately hazardous (ex. problems such as loose material and debris, unsafe storage of combustible materials and falling hazards).
- Another bill requires regular structural inspections on buildings that have been weakened by fire or other damaging elements.
- A third bill requires better monitoring of retaining walls, mandating structural inspections every five years.
- A bill to improve tower crane construction sites by strengthening inspections and requiring safety reviews each time a crane passes from one owner or operator to the next.
In addition, to address the particularly egregious issues with crane operations the number of crane inspectors in New York has been increased from four to ten. City officials have claimed they will try to save time on implementing these proposed new regulations by creating internal department directives which will avoid the need for City Council approval.
Have OSHA Delays Cost Lives?
New York officials aren’t the only ones to blame for a lack of effective oversight. Congress has criticized OSHA officials for failing to act quickly on a set of federal regulations that would promote crane safety – regulations that were proposed in 2004, four years ago. The proposed regulations included requiring testing and certification of all crane operators, steps to prevent cranes from tipping over, and increased oversight of crane assembly and disassembly.
As it is, OSHA claims the new rules will be ready in 2009, but critics are doubtful they can stick to their own timeline. Such a delay is shocking and unconscionable, and we’re sure the families of 72 workers died in crane accidents in 2006 (the last year for which statistics are available) would agree.
If you are suffering from injuries that occurred due to an on-the-job accident, then you may be looking for help to secure the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve. Please contact the law offices of Markhoff & Mittman, where New York workers’ compensation cases are our specialty. Our attorneys can help you receive the assistance that you need.