NEW YORK – Construction workers in the 1930’s were having Lunch atop a Skyscraper (see right); without hardhats, without harnesses, without hardly any of the safety standards abided by today. It’s safe to say modern construction has come a long way.
The iconic picture tells the story of America’s construction prowess and the potential perils of progress in the early 1900’s. What the picture fails to show is the many accidents that happened on construction sites, many of which are deadly.
“Construction is certainly safer today around the country and specifically, in New York,” construction accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “Unfortunately, there’s a worksite culture that leaves safety in the background when it still needs to be the top priority.”
Thousands of construction accidents still occur every year. A report released by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health found up to 71 percent of construction accidents are height-related and half of all construction accidents are falls.
“There’s technology currently in place to prevent all accidents on a worksite; every one of them,” Barnes said. “However, these safety techniques can be costly and developers often avoid using them.”
The Port Authority on New York and New Jersey noted the construction on One World Trade Center used a safety system that cost $9 million.
Almost 400 miles away in Buffalo, construction employment is at an all-time high and safety advocates fear it could be a recipe for disaster if the proper safety procedures are ignored.
Germain Harnden, executive director for the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health wrote to the Buffalo News:
“The April jobs report should permanently put to rest the old canard that we cannot have both strong jobs growth in the construction industry and strong safety laws to protect workers.
Construction employment is up 11 percent over the last year and is now at an all-time high for the Buffalo Niagara area. According to big business lobbyists, though, that kind of hiring should not be possible, thanks to the Scaffold Law.
That law holds contractors and owners responsible when they break lifesaving safety rules, but for years, lobbyists have wanted to gut the law so as to shift the blame for construction accidents from those who actually control work sites to the men and women who follow orders and do the work.
Last week’s news makes clear we do not have to sacrifice safety for jobs. That is no surprise. The Scaffold Law has been on the books for more than 100 years, through booms and busts. Nearly every building you see across New York State was built, successfully, under its guidelines.
Putting workers’ lives at risk should never be on the table. As the April jobs report makes clear, it never has to be.”
New York construction accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say all construction accidents are avoidable with the proper oversight and safety features.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Take a good look at that picture. Go ahead, click on it. Examine the goldfish for as long as you can. Look at the detail of its scales and the elegant contours of its fins. If you look long enough, its dark glassy eye may appear to widen and you may even notice a smile, or at least a smirk, emerge from its stony frown.
If researchers are correct, odds are you didn’t do any of that. They’d say you probably couldn’t read through the first paragraph, since it would take an average of 15 seconds to read. Your attention may have been diverted to another website or thumbing through your phone to read a new text message. The goldfish stayed with us.
If researchers are correct, your attention span is shorter than that of a simple Cyprinidae. You could run that word through Wikipedia but you’d only be proving their point: you can’t pay attention to just one task anymore. The goldfish stayed with us.
If researchers are correct, our attention span lasted an average of 12 seconds in 2000. Today, we can focus on a task for only eight seconds. The goldfish stayed with us.
If researchers are correct, our ability to focus during repetitive activities is sharply declining and more people are displaying “addiction-like behaviors” when it comes to mobile devices. Most of you will reach for your phone when you’re bored. The goldfish stayed with us.
If researchers are correct, most of us need to check our phones every 30 minutes or less and nearly all of us multi-task; using our mobile devices while watching other electronics like TV or using the computer. The goldfish is gone; off to eye its reflection or another morsel of food that still hasn’t made it to the bottom of the fish bowl.
If you made it this far, you could be one of the special few. With a laser-sharp focus and a strong determination unwavered by distractions. Kudos! You have a longer attention span than a goldfish.
“Whether you’re in a car or on the job, cell phones can become a major safety hazard because it takes a person’s attention off the task at hand; we’ve seen several instances like this in Buffalo,” construction accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “When a person is distracted, they may not react fast enough to avoid a workplace accident.”
“If a worker is operating any type of heavy machinery, including a car, mobile devices can be very dangerous,” Cellino said. “However, we’re just starting to uncover how dangerous multitasking is; workplace falls, walking into walls or hitting your head on a low ceiling can all be caused by distractions.”
Critics of the digital world now have another reason to justify their fears of a technology-driven society. After all, who’s proud of our shockingly low attention spans? On the other hand, researchers believe this could be just another natural step for… oh look, the goldfish is back.
NEW YORK – There’s a famous phrase coined by Sir Isaac Newton; “what goes up must come down.” In the sprawling concrete jungle of New York, everything is going up. New skyscrapers and multi-story buildings are being built every day, defying Newton’s warning. Unfortunately, construction poses risks not only to workers but the people walking by.
In March, a young woman was struck and killed by a plywood board that was blown off a construction fence in Greenwich Village. Although this sounds like an extremely rare and unlucky event, falling tools, glass, or other objects injure a person more than 12 times per year.
Construction accident lawyer, Ross Cellino says almost every kind of accident can be prevented with the right precautions and protocols. However, construction accidents keep happening for a variety of reasons.
“In the cases we see, negligence is usually a factor in these kinds of accidents and it’s not the workers but the construction companies held responsible,” said Cellino, a co-founder of the Law Offices of Cellino & Barnes. “Our laws and regulations require managers to have safety measures in place so construction accidents don’t happen but we get cases every day coming from construction sites.”
In 2014, 18 construction accidents involving non-workers were reported to New York City. Although no one was killed, fences have been blown over or, in some other way, struck pedestrians in 16 separate events, injuring 23 people, the Journal’s report revealed.
In 2011, a construction worker dropped a hammer from a scaffold, striking a child in the head.
A building code revision put in place last year now requires construction fences to be built to withstand 80 mph winds however, other accidents are happening at the highest rate in years.
“It’s not just pedestrians getting hurt either,” Cellino added. “Cars are getting struck by falling objects and several people have been hurt because falling debris like bricks came crashing down on top of a vehicle.”
Construction accident lawyers say it’s not just New York going through growing pains either; any city with construction sites can potentially put those passing by at risk.
NEW YORK – In the lines of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a soothsayer warns the emperor “Beware the Ides of March.” Of course, Caesar ignores that message and today, the Ides of March still hold an ominous meaning to millions of Americans and researchers are once again sending the same warning after the second Sunday in March.
Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor and Mine Safety, the researchers found workplace and construction accidents spiked nearly 6 percent and workplace injuries resulted in significantly higher rates of lost work days.
“That one hour can really make a huge difference. Tests show again and again that a worker’s attention to detail drops off if the body doesn’t get enough rest and with so much construction in the city, workers should be urged to get some sleep in New York,” construction accident lawyer Ross Cellino said.
Researchers at Michigan State pointed out that it wasn’t uncommon for workers to complain how tired they were in the week following the lost hour of sleep however workers would rarely blame an accident on sleep loss.
“Employers set the guidelines and standards so these injuries don’t happen,” Cellino said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had cases where employers don’t follow their own guidelines in order to meet a quota or there isn’t enough supervision to enforce the guidelines a company has in place.”
Biology shows the body can undergo drastic changes after a loss of time, even as little as one hour. Take jet lag for example: many travelers complain of fatigue after returning from a west coast flight. In essence, the same thing happens to millions of Americans every March.
New York construction accident attorneys suggest safety first in the days following a time switch. Heed the warning signs. After all, Caesar didn’t (and we know what happened to him). Et tu, Brute?
Q: Last January I was hit on the shoulder by a brick that fell while I was working on the construction of a six story building. I had to undergo reconstructive surgery, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to the type of work that I’ve done all of my life. Do I have the right to compensation?
A: Under New York law, a worker who is injured when he is hit by a falling object on a construction job has the right to make claim against the insurance companies for the general contractor and the owner of the property. The general contractor and the owner have the obligation to make sure that workers on a construction project are provided with a safe place to work. You have the right to be compensated for your past and future pain and suffering, the disability associated with your shoulder injury and any future loss of earnings if you are unable to return to work.
Q: I’ve been a union plumber for 14 years. This past summer, my boss was hired to do the plumbing work for a major addition that was being built on a business building. I was working in a trench that was at least ten feet deep. The trench collapsed and I was buried up to my shoulders under a heavy load of dirt.
I suffered multiple fractures to my pelvis and injuries to my bladder and prostate for which I have undergone multiple surgeries. My doctor tells me that I can forget working as a plumber. I now suffer pain all the time. I can’t work, and I don’t know which way to turn. Can I do anything legally?
A: It appears as though you have a right of action against the owner of the commercial building on which you were working, and against the general contractor for the job. New York’s Labor Law provides protection to workers who are hurt as a result of accidents like yours.
The Industrial Code provides that trenches deeper than five feet must be shored-up in such a manner as to insure that they will not collapse on workers whose job requires them to work in trenches. If you can no longer work as a plumber, you will have a right to be compensated for your past and future lost wages and benefits. You also have the right to compensation for everything that you have been forced to go through, including your past and future pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has suffered a construction injury contact our construction accident lawyers at Cellino & Barnes now.
I would like to thank your firm for representing our family on behalf of my late husband. This whole process was, at times, difficult for us and sometimes painful. But, we were always in good hands as Brian and Maria are two of the hardest working and sincerest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They did a tremendous job.