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Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Witness: No precautions taken before fatal workplace accident

New York construction workers frequently put their lives on the line when they have to work in dangerous circumstances. They often work without the necessary personal protective equipment. Both the New York City Department of Buildings and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have opened investigations into a deadly workplace accident that claimed the life of a 60-year-old man.

According to a police report, the incident occurred shortly before noon at a two-story home in Queens on a recent Thursday. A retired construction worker who happens to live across the street from where the man was working says he watched the worker yanking on anchors that were installed on the roof, to which they were going to secure solar panels. He was testing them for strength when something happened to propel him off the roof.

Toluene exposure can cause workplace illness

New York employees in various occupations may be exposed to hazardous chemicals without even knowing about it. Employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees. Workers must be informed of dangers they will face while working, including hazards that can cause workplace illness. However, safety training related to exposure to chemicals is often neglected, sometimes with tragic consequences.

One such hazard is toluene, which is an ingredient in many paints, adhesives and metal cleaners. It often goes unnoticed because it is clear and colorless. At room temperature, it vaporizes upon exposure to air. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes that it can be recognized by its strong sweet smell once it has evaporated.

Construction accidents: Yet another life lost in New York

The hazards on New York construction sites have given rise to many safety discussions in recent months. Despite all the talk about improved regulations, lives continue to be lost in construction accidents. One of the most recent fatalities occurred at a site in Brewster.

A report by the New York State Police indicates that an emergency call came in at approximately 7:30 a.m on a recent Wednesday. The caller was an employee who said a co-worker had fallen off a mobile scaffolding structure. Police and emergency services responded within moments to provide medical assistance.

New workers' comp benefits guidelines see strong opposition

Medical professionals and safety and health advocates expressed their opposition to the New York State Workers' Compensation Board's proposed altered guidelines at a recent press conference. Some say that the changes are merely measures for companies to cut costs, with injured employees paying for it in denied benefits. While safety authorities sought improved compensation for injured workers, the new proposal will see workplace injury victims considerably worse off.

According to the new guidelines, only company-assigned physicians may provide care, regardless of their ability to communicate in a language understood by the injured worker. This doctor will have full power to recommend or suspend care and benefits at will. Many life-altering injuries will no longer be compensable, and the levels of coverage for several severe impairments will be slashed significantly.

Noncompliance of safety rules can cause construction accidents

Two deaths in one day -- only hours apart -- come at a time when there are calls for stricter safety regulations in the building industry. However, looking at the circumstances surrounding these construction accidents, it seems the calls should be for more compliance with existing safety regulations. Two construction workers died in New York on a recent Thursday.

The first accident happened when a 43-year-old worker lost his balance and fell from the 29th floor of a luxury condo under construction. The victim landed on the platform of a scaffolding structure that was erected above the sidewalk. According to firefighters who were at the scene, the man wore a fall harness but neglected to clip it into a secure anchor point.

Carbon monoxide exposure can cause serious workplace illness

New York workers in industrial facilities typically have to face multiple safety hazards in the line of duty. Compliance with safety regulations is one way of preventing an on-the-job injury or a workplace illness. Employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently reported that noncompliance with rules related to carbon monoxide exposure could lead to fatalities.

Authorities say gasoline-powered equipment and tools must never be operated indoors, not even in semi-enclosed spaces. Also, open windows and doors will not provide enough ventilation to prevent workers suffering carbon monoxide poisoning. When such equipment is operated outside, it is important to keep it away from air intakes by which CO can be carried into buildings.

Injured workers are entitled to workers' compensation benefits

A spokesperson for the Transport Workers Union reported some of the details of a recent New York accident that involved an MTA bus. These are the types of incidents that could not only cause serious harm to passengers and property, but they can also lead to critically injured workers. Fortunately, this incident that occurred in the early morning hours of a recent Tuesday involved no passengers.

Reportedly, an MTA bus driver with 12 years of experience was hospitalized in a critical condition. The incident apparently happened when the driver parked the bus in Queens because he needed a bathroom break. However, after exiting, he noticed the bus starting to roll backward toward the gates of a nearby cemetery. He could not stop the bus by reaching through the driver's window and ran around to try entering the cab through the passenger side door.

Construction zone worker succumbs to fatal work injury

New York workers who spend their days making the highways safer for road users put their lives on the line every day. Not only are they threatened by the equipment used in road construction but also by negligent drivers who fail to take due care when they travel through construction zones. On Aug. 23, a construction zone worker succumbed to a work injury that resulted from an accident on Aug. 14.

According to a report of the accident, the 55-year-old construction zone worker was part of a crew working on Route 12. She was tasked with directing traffic passing through the construction zone. While holding up a sign to stop or slow down northbound traffic, she was struck by a box truck.

Will stricter regulations prevent construction accidents?

Dozens of workers have died on construction sites in New York since the beginning of 2015. One of them was a 22-year-old worker who recently fell to his death down the shaft of an elevator in a condo tower under construction. Following the wave of construction accidents, some unions have managed to persuade the City Council to demand significantly more training hours for all construction workers.

Ten years ago, the mayor asked for a mandate that required 10 training hours for workers on projects that involved buildings of 10 stories of more. That was followed by the Buildings Department Commissioner requiring the presence of safety personnel on any project of four and more stories along with much steeper fines for violating contractors. Requiring 10 hours of training for all workers is also under consideration.

What to do when workplace accidents are caused by third parties

When workers are injured on the job, parties other than the employer or a co-worker are sometimes responsible for the accident. When this happens in New York, the injured workers may be entitled to pursue personal injury lawsuits apart from their workers' compensation benefits claims. This could allow victims of workplace accidents to recover more than just medical expenses and lost income.

An employee in a neighboring state recently filed a personal injury lawsuit against an independent contractor and two of his employees. He claims their negligence caused him to suffer multiple injuries. According to the complaint, the plaintiff was standing near a parking lot at his place of work when the contractor and his two employees caused a rubberized jet vac line that was tautly stretched to snap and strike his body and head.

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