Chopra & Nocerino, LLP

New York City councilman calls for safety law implementation

Three fatal construction accidents in one week have prompted a New York City councilman to call for the implementation of a workplace safety law that was enacted in 2017. The councilman says that the training protocols required by Local Law 196 may have prevented one or all of the fatalities. While the deadline for employers to meet the 40 hours of safety training mandated by the law remains Sept. 1, 2020, the date for reaching 30 hours of training has been moved from Dec. 1 to June 1, 2020.

The first of the three fatal construction accidents occurred on April 8 when a window washer died after being struck by a piece of falling masonry on the east Side. The second took place on April 10 and claimed the life of a worker who was stacking bricks at a construction site in Brooklyn Heights. The third happened in SoHo during the early morning hours of April 13 and killed a worker who was assembling a crane.

The spate of fatal accidents could bring closer scrutiny to an industry that has a poor safety record. The private construction sector has the highest rate of workplace fatalities in New York City and accounts for one in four job-related deaths. Nonfatal accidents are also a major problem for the city's contractors. A recent report reveals that workplace injuries in the sector increased by more than 40 percent between 2016 and 2018.

Statistics such as those found in the report could be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to support arguments of gross negligence in lawsuits filed on behalf of injured construction workers. While the workers' compensation program was put into place partly to prevent this kind of litigation, injured workers may pursue civil remedies when their employers acted with extreme disregard for their safety.

Source: Crain's New York Business, "Calls to speed up safety law after construction deaths last week", Ryan Deffenbaugh, April 15, 2019

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