A Perfect Example of Why the New York Scaffold Law Should Not be Weakened

Week of Valor


While business lobbyists have argued that the New York Scaffold Law costs too much, lawmakers have refused to weaken the law because it is greatly needed for the numerous construction workers who risk their lives every day at dangerous construction sites.

The New York Scaffold Law provides injured workers and the family members of deceased workers, a legal route to obtain compensation from negligent property owners and contractors.

Earlier this year, there was yet another construction tragedy when a construction worker was crushed to death by falling steel at the Barclays Center.  The 52-year-old iron worker was helping to move the massive beams from a truck onto a hoist when several pieces fell on him. Investigators reported the load was top heavy and when the truck driver unhooked it without instruction, the pieces toppled on top of the worker and crushed him. The worker was rushed to the hospital, but sadly was later pronounced dead.

There is no doubt that this tragic accident could have been avoided; and this is a perfect example of why the Scaffold Law should not be weakened. The Scaffold Law must stay the way it is so that construction workers who are injured due to the negligent acts of contractors are properly compensated.

If You Are Injured While Working At A Construction Site It Is Imperative To…

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The construction industry is one of the most dangerous fields to work in, especially in New York City. Workers constantly face risks of being seriously injured and even dying while on the job. In fact, such dangers have deterred many New Yorkers from entering the construction field.

As the number of construction workers is decreasing, not enough workers are entering the field to replace the ones leaving, according to The New York Department of Labor.

We are halfway into 2015 and New York has already lost about two handfuls of construction workers in fatal accidents. This number is almost the same as the construction related deaths that were reported in ALL of 2014.

The Department of Buildings reports that construction-related deaths have doubled in NYC since 2013, therefore it is important to be very aware of the hazards when working at a construction site.

If you are injured while working at a construction site, it is imperative that you know what to do to protect your legal rights and your health. Thus, you should take the following steps:

• Call 911 and get proper medical attention.
• Report the accident to OSHA and your insurance carrier so that they can provide coverage for your claim.
• Investigate the details to find out who is responsible for the accident. Often times, more than one party may be responsible.
• Call an experienced attorney to obtain the full compensation that you deserve.

Good Thing for OSHA

The infographic below shows how The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has helped reduce construction and industrial deaths in the U.S. for more than four decades.

OSHA serves as an extra set of eyes that focuses on safety in the workplace; it has saved more than 75,000 lives over the last 45 years.

Under OSHA’s requirements, employers must provide protective equipment to their employees, such as hard hats and harnesses. The administration’s goal has been to help construction workers identify any safety hazards, and if there are such hazards, OSHA encourages employees to report the hazard to them immediately.

When OSHA compliance officers identify serious hazards, the agency gives hefty fines to employers.


Crane Accidents Are a Huge Problem in New York City

crane GOODNew York City is famous for many things, including the ongoing construction of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings constantly going up. While cranes play a big role in construction, they also play a big role in accidents.

For over a decade, crane accidents have been a huge problem in New York City and are one of the most terrifying things about living in New York.

From a crane snapping and falling seven stories, injuring one person in 2007 to a crane malfunctioning and killing one person in April of this year, cranes have caused several tragedies and immense destruction over the years.

If you were hurt while working on a crane, you will need an experienced attorney to represent you through the legal process. The attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers have more than 150 years of combined experience and are well-prepared to handle any construction accident. Call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at (516) 342-2200 for a free case evaluation.

Steven Schwartzapfel Expresses His Sympathy After Yet Another Fatal Accident on a Construction Site

craneThis past weekend a member of Local Union 478 was laid to rest after he fell to his death from a crane last week. 

Arthur Hilario, who was an operating engineer for Torrington-based O&G Industries, was working on the construction site of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven when he fell off a crane and suffered a fatal head injury.

O&G Industries said Mr. Hilario was a long-time, valued employee who will be greatly missed.

The construction project included the bridge and rebuilding the interchange of interstates 95 and 91.

Attorney Steven Schwartzapfel stated, “My deepest sympathies go out to the victim’s family and construction colleagues on the job site. A construction worker’s career can end in an instant having a devastating impact on the worker’s entire family. Something like this does not happen but for someone’s wrongdoing and failure to follow the law. A thorough investigation by OSHA will prove that this tragedy should never have happened.”

Steven Schwartzapfel States His View on the Tragedy of a Construction Worker that Plunged Down an Elevator Shaft

elevator shaftMore sad news in the construction industry as a 25-year-old construction worker died after falling down an elevator shaft in midtown Manhattan Tuesday afternoon.

The worker fell hundreds of feet down an elevator shaft as he was working on the 24th floor of the Riu Plaza Times Square Hotel.

He was taken to Bellevue Hospital after he was found in the cellar of the building, but was sadly later pronounced dead.

The Department of Building inspectors were said to be on the scene immediately after the accident, and they will decide if this accident warrants a violation.

According to the authorities, there had been pervious problems at the worksite, including problems with unsafe work practices. In 2013, work on the hotel was ordered to be stopped because inspectors found floor openings without the required railings and cited the owner, RIU Hotel & Resorts, for unsafe work conditions.

This is yet another unnecessary tragic loss in NYC’s construction industry and building owners and general contractors are to blame because they rather cut corners to save money then provide adequate safety for workers.

Attorney Steven Schwartzapfel, who represents Local One members and has been the leading counsel for all elevator accident cases in NY for many years stated, “These deaths are usually a direct result of the owner and general contractor placing profit before worker and public safety. By hiring non-union, untrained, inexperienced, incompetent, inept and unskilled workers to perform elevator work on high rise buildings, not only the workers, but all New Yorkers are at risk. How many more workers and innocent New Yorkers must be injured, maimed, disabled and/or killed before all politicians pledge their support for the Elevator Safety Bill? Everyone can make a difference; call your Assemblyman and State Senators today to support the New York Elevator Safety Bill.”

Nail Gun Safety

050425-N-8102P-003In the construction industry, many workers now use nail guns instead of hammers. Nail guns boost productivity, but are very powerful leading to many injuries. An estimated 37,000 workers visit the emergency room each year due to injuries sustained from a nail gun. Severe nail gun injuries have even led to some deaths.

Studies found that two-thirds of nail gun injury claims involved an unintended nail gun discharge or misfire. Therefore, OSHA’s construction standard requires all hand and power tools to be maintained in a safe condition. OSHA has provided builders and contractors with information on nail gun hazards and advice on steps they should take to prevent nail gun injuries on their construction jobs.

Employers are encouraged to coach new employees on how to properly use a nail gun. Workers should never tamper with the nail gun to try to remove the spring from the safety-contact tip as this only increases the chance that the nail gun will fire unintentionally.

OSHA requires employees to wear safety shoes to protect toes from nail gun injuries. Employers should provide extra protection for their employees such as hard hats, safety glasses or goggles, and hearing protection.

Here are some things to keep in mind when using a nail gun:

• Always shoot nail guns away from your body and away from co-workers.
• Always disconnect the compressed air when leaving a nail gun unattended, travelling up and down a ladder or stairs, passing the nail gun to a co-worker and clearing jammed nails.
• Check the tool label and manual, which should always be available on the jobsite, for operating information.

Nail gun injuries have been on the rise, so take a moment and use this guide to improve safety on job sites. These injuries can be prevented.

Steven Schwartzapfel Expresses Empathy for Man Who Dies in Collapse at Construction Site

Sadly, a construction worker died on Monday after being buried by dirt at a construction site in Manhattan. 

Sources say the site was being developed into a Restoration Hardware. The worker had been digging below the foundation of the building when dirt fell on him, burying him up to his neck. As officers arrived, they dug him out and found the 22-year-old man not breathing.

According to city records, the property owners, William Gottlieb Real Estate, have several outstanding violations with the Department of Buildings, including a violation for failing to maintain the building walls. Inspectors found numerous cracks and missing concrete, among other faulty things on the outside of the building.

Personal Injury Attorney, Steven Schwartzapfel said in a statement, “My deepest sympathies go out to the victim’s family, friends, and construction colleagues on the job site. I am certain that a thorough investigation of this man’s death will prove that this tragedy should have never happened.”

Suffering From a Job-Related Illnesses or Injury? Get the Benefits You Deserve By…

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Every year thousands of New York workers suffer from job-related illnesses and injuries, causing a major impact on the economy. Millions of hours in manpower and productivity are lost each year due to worker injuries. Many employees fail to collect the wage benefits they are entitled to essentially because they don’t understand how the process works. In some cases, employees don’t believe their injury is worthy enough to file a claim.

The fact of the matter is if you’ve been injured on the job or suffer from a job-related illness you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney immediately to help you get the benefits you deserve.

The workers’ compensation system can be so frustrating that many employees decide not to pursue their claims, but an experienced attorney can help make things easier to understand.

Labor Unions Force Insurance Companies to Disclose Costs Related to the Scaffold Law

Last week, labor unions who strongly support the New York Scaffold Law, endorsed a bill forcing insurance companies to reveal the increased costs due to the Scaffold Law. 

The bill requires all insurance companies that give liability coverage under the New York State Scaffold Safety Law to disclose all information about how premiums are calculated. Under the bill, insurance companies must file the information annually with the Department of Financial Services.

Insurance companies have been trying to get rid of the Scaffold Law for years because of astronomical construction insurance rates. However, according to a sponsor of the Construction Insurance Transparency Act of 2015, Assemblyman Francisco Moya, insurance companies have never supplied any data to back up their claims that the Scaffold Law increases costs. Moya stated “We don’t know how relative their premiums going up is actually related to the Scaffold Law.”

The president of the New York State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Mario Cilento, stated “The Scaffold Safety Law is in place to prevent deaths and injuries to workers, it is not an economic development measure and should not be viewed in that light. Therefore the law should never be weakened.”

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries to work in. Everyday workers are faced with the possibility of an injury and even death. Construction remains the most fatal sectors in the U.S., therefore, construction workers have a right to be protected under the law. The Scaffold Law does just that as it makes certain employers always focus on worker’s safety and protecting their employees. The law ensures contractors provide workers with proper safety equipment, such as netting and a safety harness when working at great heights. According to the Scaffold Law, employers have an absolute duty to keep their workers safe.