A New York Construction Accident Lawyer Who Represents Injured Workers Tracking Developments in Construction Accident Law.

There is a good article in the New Jersey Law Journal, “Dying for a Paycheck: Body Count Rises as Workers Fall,” by Mark LeWinter, Esq. of Anapol Schwartz in Philadelphia, that reveals that Hispanics and other foreign-born workers disproportionately suffer falling accidents at construction accidents, but since the online version is password-protected, unfortunately I am unable to link to it. 

The article cites a study conducted by The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) finding that falls from an elevation continue to be the leading cause of worker fatalities. Further, 28 percent of all fall fatalities were Hispanic workers and 29 percent were foreign born.

LeWinter explains what many of us plaintiff’s attorneys already know, which is that scores of illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America work in the construction industry and are subjected to hazardous conditions at their job sites. Often they are unaware of their right to have a safe work environment or otherwise are afraid to assert that right. Moreover, employers assign these workers to dangerous tasks and take advantage of their lack of knowledge of their rights. 

The interests of speedy job completion, always at the forefront of owner’s and general contractor’s minds, often trump the use of proper safety equipment and fall protection devices. LeWinter suggests that OSHA enforcement of safety standards in the homebulding industry needs to be strengthened. This recommendation should be heeded. 

In New York, Labor Law section 240(1) provides a deterrent to elevation-related accidents by imposing liability upon owners and general contractors, independent of whether they had prior notice of an unsafe condition. This law is constantly under assault by special interest groups representing the insurance and construction industries, not to mention that the courts have chipped away at its protections in recent years.

But given the spate of recent crane accidents in New York City, section 240(1) should be kept on the books and not repealed.

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