Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Recent crane collapse highlights dangers of large construction equipment

Last Friday, residents and passersby were shocked and terrified when a towering 565-foot construction crane tumbled down in lower Manhattan. The accident occurred as, due to concerns about increasing winds, the crane operator was attempting to lower and secure the hulking boom and members of the construction crew were attempting to clear the streets of pedestrians and motorists.

A 38-year-old man was killed in the accident and three other members of the public were injured. City officials and the police continue to investigate factors that may have contributed to the crane's collapse. The accident prompted Mayor de Blasio to issue new temporary crane safety rules within the city and has cast a spotlight on the many dangers that construction equipment like cranes, derricks and hoists pose to workers and members of the public alike.

For construction workers, falls are among the most common and deadly types of accidents

We've previously discussed the myriad of safety hazards that men and women who work construction face on a daily basis. The grave dangers of construction work are evidenced by the significant number of construction-related injuries and deaths that occur each year.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, during 2014, construction workers made up more than 20 percent of total U.S. worker deaths. Contributing to nearly 40 percent of all construction-related deaths, falls pose the greatest danger to construction workers. A recent construction accident that occurred at a building in New York City, provides a real-life example of the devastating injuries that can result when construction employers fail to protect workers.

Some of the most costly types of non-fatal workplace injuries

A workplace injury can negatively impact your life in numerous ways. Chronic pain, reduced mobility, disabling injuries, costly medical bills, lost wages and loss of enjoyment in life are just some of the difficulties that are frequently experienced in the wake of a workplace injury.

In an effort to draw attention to the serious financial and personal tolls exacted by workplace injuries, Liberty Mutual reviewed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to identify the most-costly types of non-fatal workplace injuries. Combined, the top 10 most-costly injuries that were identified result in an annual loss for U.S. businesses of $51 billion in profits and significant losses for U.S. workers that are often difficult to quantify.

How the coffee manufacturing process is slowly killing workers

According to Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, on a daily basis, more than half of all U.S. adults drink at least one cup of coffee. With annual profits in the U.S. alone estimated to be at nearly $3.5 billion, there's certainly a lot of money to be made and at stake in the coffee industry. However, while numerous studies focus on the potential positive and negative health effects of drinking coffee, until recently few were aware of the possible health dangers posed to the men and women who work at coffee manufacturing plants.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to the chemical agent diacetyl has been linked to abnormal lung functioning and lung disease. Diacetyl is commonly used to add flavoring to coffee and is also naturally produced during the coffee manufacturing process. The health dangers posed by the chemical first came to light in 2006 when a number of microwave popcorn workers developed what subsequently became known as popcorn lung.

Combustible dust standard unlikely before 2017

Due to a variety of frustrating circumstances, it seems unlikely that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will release a comprehensive standard in regards to the hazard created by combustible dust. This omission will likely continue to result in injurious and even fatal accidents.

One of the challenges that OSHA faces in creating and ultimately releasing a comprehensive combustible dust standard is that combustible dust is a complex hazard. Unlike more straightforward work-related hazards including significant heights faced by many in the construction industry and even hazards like slick floors in the retail industry, combustible dust is complex in its composition and in its regulation.

Excessive noise at work may cause hearing loss

Our five senses help us both experience and interpret the world around us. From the foods we eat and the things we touch to the sights we see and the sounds we hear, our senses bring us pleasure and alert us to danger. Given the significant role that each of our senses plays in helping us make sense of and enjoy our environment, a loss or deficiency to one or more can prove to be debilitating.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, annually in the United States, an estimated "30 million people are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise." Individuals who work in certain professions like construction and manufacturing are often particularly at risk for suffering hearing damage and loss due to unsafe noise levels at work.

If 2014 trends continue; deaths in construction and maintenance to top 2015 list

According to New York's Department of Labor, as of this month, there were more than 7.8 million private sector jobs in the state. With unemployment rates at their lowest since 2007, the state's economy remains strong and is fueled by growth within several industries including professional and business services, education and health services, transportation, manufacturing and construction.

While a growth in jobs and renewed economic prosperity is a good thing for the state and residents alike, at times such growth comes at a cost to workers' safety. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, during 2014 a total of 125 workers in New York State lost their lives after suffering work-related injuries.

Protecting workers from becoming victims of electrical accidents

Workers who must work with or in the vicinity of power lines and other electrical sources are at an increased danger of suffering electrical-related injuries. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, "five occupational groups account for nearly 80 percent of all fatal electrical accidents," these groups include construction, installation and repair, ground maintenance and transportation and moving.

From nonfatal injuries related to burns and shocks to fatal electrocutions, injuries related to electrical accidents are often painful and serious. Among the leading causes of nonfatal electrical injuries are workers who come into contact with wiring, transformers and other electrical components as well as with electrical currents running to machines, appliances and light fixtures.

Healthcare workers sacrificing their own health and safety for their jobs

When you or a loved are feeling ill or are in need of emergency medical care, you likely head to the nearest medical clinic or hospital. Healthcare facilities like hospitals are regarded by many as being safe havens where you are surrounded by caring and competent nurses and doctors who can immediately tend to your needs.

Given the view that many of us have about the healthcare industry and related facilities, statistics showing that hospitals are actually one of the most dangerous places to work are surprising. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2011 statistics show that injuries among healthcare workers were nearly two times "the rate for private industry as a whole."

Why winter can be particularly hazardous for workers

As residents across New York brace for the cold of the winter months, employers and employees are advised to take steps to avoid winter weather hazards. From slips-and-falls to motor vehicle accidents, the safety of many employees is adversely affected by inclement winter weather conditions.

During 2010 alone, among U.S. workers, motor vehicle accidents accounted for 38 percent of the total number of reported fatalities. While it's obviously impossible to control the weather or the condition of the roads and highways upon which workers must travel, employers are advised to establish and "enforce driver safety policies." Additionally, work vehicles should undergo regular and routine maintenance inspections to include the tires, brakes, engine and electrical systems.

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