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Governor Andrew Cuomo creates task force to promote workers' rights and safety

U.S. labor laws were enacted to ensure for the safety and fair treatment of all workers regardless of industry or position. However, despite these laws and federal safety and regulatory agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, each year millions of U.S. workers are injured and killed on the job.

Often, work-related injuries and fatalities occur at workplaces and on job sites where employers failed to adequately train and protect employees about and from occupational dangers. In response to a growing number of workplace injuries, fatalities and general violations of employment laws; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced the formation of a special task force.

The New York Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation brings members from 10 state agencies together to "coordinate data collection, investigations, prosecutions and compliance." A portion of the task force's $700,000 budget will be dedicated to rooting out corruption and exploitation of workers within the state's construction industry.

While only roughly four percent of the members of New York's workforce are employed within construction, the industry represents a whopping "20 percent of the state's occupational fatalities." Often, those construction workers who suffer serious and fatal injuries are immigrants and non-union members who are oppressed and exploited by their employers and unaware of their legal rights and protections.

For injured workers, the workers' compensation system is a federal program that workers pay in to and are allowed to claim benefits from in the event that they are injured while working. However, not all workers are aware of their rights to claim workers' compensation benefits and some who suffer injuries are threatened by employers or outright denied compensation.

An attorney who handles workers' compensation matters can answer questions and help an injured worker understand his or her rights. An attorney will also aid in the claims process and work to ensure that a worker obtains the full benefit amount to which he or she entitled.

Source: Gotham Gazette, "New York’s Much-Needed New Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation," Pat Dolan, Oct. 29, 2015

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