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Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Construction accidents: I-beam kills crane operator, flagger

On the eve of Thanksgiving, two workers lost their lives in the latest incident in a series of fatal crane-related accidents in New York over recent years. One of the ways in which the city tries to prevent construction accidents is to prohibit the use of cranes when winds reach a certain strength; however, nobody seems to be sure whether the wind speed was just below or just over the limit on the fateful Tuesday. Until proved otherwise, authorities cite equipment failure as the cause of the fatalities.

Reportedly, a 47-year-old crane operator hoisted a 6,500-pound steel I-beam into place on a six-story building when the massive beam inexplicably detached and came crashing down. It fell onto the crane cab and a 43-year-old father of three who was the flagman. Both workers died on impact. The incident occurred shortly after midday, but it took rescue workers more than four hours to extricate the remains of the crane operator from the crushed cab.

OSHA investigates violence, injured workers at mental facilities

While construction sites and factories are known to be dangerous workplace facilities, those who work in mental institutions in New York and other states also face job hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently launched investigations concerning the safety of workers at four such facilities in a neighboring state. The frequency of reports of injured workers likely led to this action.

This is not a new problem, and records indicate that OSHA reported that employees at mental health facilities face risks of violence by acute patients back in Oct. 2015. While caring for some patients, workers often suffer assaults that cause severe bodily injuries. After one such incident, OSHA criticized one of these four hospitals for its failure to use more staff when working with known violent patients. Incident reports include a nurse whose ear was almost torn off by a 22-year-old patient and another nurse who was attacked by a patient receiving drug addiction treatment.

Workplace Illness: New York nonprofit exposed workers to asbestos

Asbestos abatement is known to pose severe health hazards to workers in New York and elsewhere. Exposure to asbestos can cause an employee to suffer a workplace illness that can have grave consequences. A nonprofit organization in Auburn recently paid a stiff penalty after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated its compliance with safety regulations in areas where asbestos was present.

A spokesperson for the organization says they identified the presence of asbestos in floor tiles during an office renovation project in June. However, OSHA says the organization failed to arrange an assessment of asbestos exposure by a competent person. Federal inspectors determined that the company exposed four employees to asbestos during the project.

Thruway worker dies in fatal workplace accident when hit by SUV

Workers who take care of New York roads put their lives on the line every day. A fatal workplace accident recently claimed the life of a 58-year-old Little Falls man who was a Thruway employee. The deceased man was an operator of heavy construction equipment and had been in the Thruway Authority's service for more than 20 years.

The accident is still under investigation, but a preliminary report indicates that a Thruway maintenance truck, two tow trucks and several workers were clearing up the scene of an accident shortly after 8 a.m. on a recent Friday. The emergency and maintenance vehicles were on the shoulder while the workers moved the wrecked vehicle from the roadway. Authorities say this was not far from the Little Falls exit from the eastbound lane of the Thruway.

Serious injuries cause death of man unhooked from fall protection

On March 13, a 37-year-old employee of a company that does window framing lost his life on the job at a New York construction site. He suffered serious injuries in a fall that turned out to be fatal. The incident occurred in Schenectady County in the town of Niskayuna where a crew of workers was doing carpentry work.

Investigators of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the workers were positioned on a narrow ledge that was 24-feet above ground level. It was determined that, although the worker was wearing a fall harness, he was not secured to an anchor point at the time of his fall. Investigators said a co-worker reported that the line used to arrest a fall got tangled around the worker's leg. In his attempt to untangle the cord, he reportedly unhooked himself, lost his balance and fell to the ground.

Workplace accidents: Peak season risks in distribution centers

The time leading up to the festive holiday season is the time when distribution centers in New York move into their peak seasons. Getting merchandise to all the stores in time for the big rush of shoppers typically brings about frantic activities in warehouses where safety regulations may not receive the attention they deserve. Compliance with safety regulations -- regardless of the level of pressure to perform -- can prevent workplace accidents.

Training will always be a vital ingredient in workplace safety. When training employees to do particular jobs, safety training must be included. Communication is also important because every potentially dangerous area that is reported and addressed can prevent injuries. High-risk areas typically include unprotected machines, spills on floors and obstructions such as pallets placed in aisles.

Construction accidents: 2 injured when deck collapses

New York owners of construction companies have an enormous responsibility to protect the safety and health of their employees. Workers in this industry face multiple safety hazards every day, and compliance with federal safety regulations is vital to avoid construction accidents. This applies especially to those who work on repairing buildings damaged by hurricanes and other disasters.

Two employees of a home improvement company were recently injured when a deck on which they were working collapsed. Reportedly, the incident occurred at a property on Long Island. The men were working on elevating a home after the structure was compromised during Hurricane Sandy.

Injured workers: Can maker cited for causing hearing loss

Many workers nationwide, including in New York, are exposed to excessive noise levels on the job every day. A spokesperson for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration put the annual number of injured workers following exposure to hazardous noise levels at 22 million. He also said exposure to sustained high levels of noise damages the nerve endings in the inner ear and could lead to irreparable, permanent hearing loss.

A manufacturer of industrial and decorative tins in a neighboring state was inspected some time ago, and federal inspectors noticed the extreme noise levels throughout the facility. This led to a full investigation into the company's compliance with all safety regulations. Investigators determined that, although the business owners were aware of the regulated steps that must be taken to protect the employees from hearing loss, no effort was made to comply.

Workplace accident: Unharnessed architect falls to his death

It is said that architectural students are taught by their professors that they are the rulers of construction jobsites. This mindset may lead to architects disregarding safety regulations. The truth is that any person on a construction site in New York and elsewhere can be a workplace accident victim, regardless of one's position on the project. An architect is just as vulnerable as a construction worker.

An architect recently lost his life when he fell from a building in New York City. Reports indicate that the owner of an architectural company in a neighboring state was on the 42nd story of the mid-rise complex. He apparently bent down to take some measurements near the edge of the building, and it is suspected that he got upright too quickly and became dizzy. Although there was a safety wall, he fell over it to his death.

Workplace illness prevalent for female day laborers in New York

An advocacy group in Brooklyn published the results of a new study that examined the difficulties faced by female day laborers in New York. The study found that 75 percent of the women who work as day laborers are the primary breadwinners for their dependents. Along with looking into their levels of remuneration and other wage and hour law issues, vulnerability related to workplace illness and injuries was also studied.

An alarming fact that came to light is that 65 percent of these women do not have access to health care. Furthermore, illnesses related to their work were reported by 71 percent of the women. A large number of the said conditions resulted from exposure to dangerous chemical cleaning materials. Chronic pain was also reported by women who were forced to clean floors on their hands and knees.

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