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New York City Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Workplace accident: Electrocution causes 10 percent of fatalities

Each year large numbers of workers nationwide, including in New York, suffer electrical shocks or burns caused by electrical currents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 141 reported deaths from electricity exposure in 2013 increased to 156 in 2014. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says approximately 10 percent of all workplace accident deaths are electrocutions.

When a worker comes into direct contact with exposed circuit parts or energized conductors, the current will travel through his or her body and interfere with the body's electrical signals that are sent between the muscles and the brain. It can cause interference with the person's heartbeat, muscle spasms and the ability to breathe. Electricity can also enter an individual's body if an electrical arc travels through the air to an object that is grounded, and the body of the worker may be the closest object to serve that purpose.

Trench collapse: Grave digger narrowly escapes death

A New York worker narrowly escaped his own death while he was digging a grave. A grave is no different from a trench in that it is a long narrow excavation cut into the surface of the earth. When an open grave caves in, the worker is exposed to the same hazards as in a trench collapse. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation into worker safety at the various cemeteries throughout metropolitan New York area where this company operates its grave digging business.

OSHA inspectors reportedly found several safety violations that expose other workers to the same hazards that caused this man's serious injuries. He was buried in soil up to his waist. The agency said any such excavation must be inspected by a qualified person to identify and address potential dangers. Based on this assessment, a trench -- or grave -- must then be properly supported and protected against collapses.

New York construction worker deaths reach alarming numbers

There is mounting concern over the safety of construction workers in New York. The numbers of construction worker deaths and injuries have risen significantly, and federal investigators have reported that the majority of the incidents were entirely avoidable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has, in many cases, determined that construction company owners focus on speedy completion of projects rather than worker safety.

Some of these avoidable deaths include that of a 36-year-old worker who fell 19 feet at a Brooklyn construction site. Within a few weeks, a 58-year-old worker plummeted eight stories, and less than two weeks later a 33-year-old worker fell from a 110-foot high roof. OSHA officials are concerned, because in most instances, the victims of these fatal fall accidents were not protected by safety harnesses and hard hats; in many cases, supervision is nonexistent.

New York construction accident claims life of 56-year-old worker

Losing a loved one in an on-the-job accident is a traumatizing experience, and adjusting to life if that loved one was the primary bread winner of a family typically presents many stumbling blocks. It is hard to understand why some company owners have no regard for the safety of their workers. A family in a neighboring state has to cope with such a loss after a construction accident in New York that claimed the life of their loved one.

It was reported that the city Department of Buildings has issued an order to stop all work activities on the building site after a fall accident claimed the life of a 56-year-old worker. A department spokesperson said work will commence again once the general contractor can show that the construction site is safe. The lifeless body of the worker was found at the construction site on a recent Tuesday afternoon.

Occupational disease: Excessive noise can cause hearing loss

New York workers who are exposed to high levels of noise in their places of work may be shocked to learn that almost 125,000 workers nationwide have to cope with permanent hearing loss that is work-related. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is based on statistics recorded since 2004. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says although this occupational disease is preventable, it continues to cause significant concern.

Under OSHA regulations, employers must provide workers who are exposed to excessive noise levels with properly selected, fitted and maintained devices to protect their hearing. In addition to teaching workers the correct way to use the devices, job sites with noise levels above a prescribed level must have an effective hearing conservation program in place. It was reported that a sudden noise, such as an explosion, can cause temporary hearing loss or ringing in the ears, while continued noise can cause permanent damage or complete hearing loss.

Construction accident: Building collapse kills 1, injures another

In the aftermath of a massive building collapse in New York on a recent Friday morning, firefighters, EMT's and police put their lives on the line to save a worker's life. The lives of nineteen workers were brought into jeopardy in a construction accident when the eight-story building they were demolishing collapsed. Officials reported that the collapse happened in a V-shape and brought down the bottom five stories.

Sadly, one worker lost his life when a wooden plank struck him in the head, and he was found pinned against a dumpster. The collapse caused his 20-year-old colleague to fall into the basement from the first floor. Falling chunks of concrete and thousands of pounds of other building debris buried the man up to his waist.

Workplace accidents: Landscaper cited after worker's death

Company owners in New York are bound by federal law to provide workers with safe workplace environments that are free of known hazards. Unfortunately, some employers continue to violate safety regulations and put their employees in harm's way. One of the often-neglected responsibilities of employers is the proper maintenance of equipment to avoid workplace accidents.

In June, an employee of a landscaping company lost his life in a workplace accident that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration deemed entirely avoidable. The company was recently cited for committing a safety violation that led to a fatality. The company has reportedly contested the OSHA findings.

University lab technician killed in work accident

While many workplaces pose multiple safety hazards that are not addressed, others may be perfectly safe. However, even in safe environments, unanticipated workplace accidents can happen in any industry nationwide, including in New York. One such work accident that occurred at about 10 a.m. on a recent Wednesday is under investigation in another state.

The accident reportedly happened on the campus of a university where a crew was working on a new magnet that was under construction at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Work was being done on the system by which cooling water is supplied to the magnet during operation. The water supply pipe was sealed with a steel cap and, in the crew's attempt to remove it, pressurized water and air escaped.

April rail car deaths investigation leads to $963,000 penalties

Workers in New York and other states are entitled to workplace environments that will not pose injury threats. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not take kindly to employers who disregard workers' safety. This was clearly demonstrated in the massive penalties it proposed after completing an accident investigation at a rail car cleaning facility in another state.

The investigation followed an April explosion that claimed the lives of two workers. OSHA found that despite the result of an air quality check of the rail car showing dangerous conditions, two workers were sent to work in the rail car moments later. They were reportedly not provided with safety equipment to allow emergency retrieval, nor were they issued with properly fitted respiratory equipment. The already dangerous air quality was apparently not monitored while the workers were in the rail car.

OSHA determines company responsible for worker's fatal injuries

Construction company owners and contractors in New York must assess the safety hazards on construction sites throughout all building activities. Each hazard must be addressed to protect workers from suffering construction accident injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently said nine New York construction workers have died in fall accidents so far this year, and compliance with safety regulations might have prevented these deaths.

OSHA recently completed an investigation into the April death of a worker at a construction site in Brighton Beach. The 51-year-old worker was reportedly raking concrete that was being poured on the sixth floor of the building. Inspectors determined that there were no protective guards placed at the edge of the work area, and the worker fell to his death.

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