Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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It’s never fashionable to exploit your workers.

sweatshop.jpgThat’s what one designer may soon learn in the course of a $50 million lawsuit alleging retaliation for New York City workers’ compensation claims, as well as outright abuses and working conditions that have been compared to a sweatshop.

Our New York City workers’ compensation attorneys have been following the heavy media coverage surrounding the case of fashion designer Alexander Wang. Some 30 current and former employees are suing Wang, alleging appalling work conditions, in which they were made to work 16-hour days in stifling, claustrophobic areas. What’s more, some workers have said that when they suffered injuries, as a result of these conditions, they filed workers’ compensation claims, and were subsequently fired.

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Residential construction permits in the city are up by an encouraging 33 percent, though along with that comes the greater potential for a Great Neck construction accident.

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As our Great Neck construction law attorneys understand it, that’s at least partially why regional administrators for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are extending their fall protection directive for those involved in residential construction.

The directive is essentially the agency’s effort to address the serious risks associated with falls during the course of residential construction. That means the agency is making compliance a top priority for companies working on residential construction projects. It is sending out inspectors to ensure that all the proper protections are in place, and is also handing out related reading materials on what type of citations and penalties these bosses face if they do not comply with the law. It also offered these employers 30 days to address any blatant fall issues.

Originally, this directive was supposed to last six months, wrapping up in the middle of this month. Apparently, however, the agency identified a need to continue this awareness initiative, which it is now extending through December.

As OSHA has identified, falls on residential construction sites have been a problem in Great Neck, New York City and elsewhere.

OSHA reports that in 2010, there were 635 fatal falls at construction sites in the U.S. There were 645 the year before. At the record highest, there were 847 in 2007.

While the number of accidents has declined since the beginning of the economic downturn, they are bound to rise again with the economic rebound that is manifesting itself in the growing number of residential construction projects, as reported by Crain’s New York.

In fact, according to the city’s buildings’ department, there were almost 9,000 permits issued for residential building projects last year, a significant rise from little more than 6,700 the prior year.

Of those projects, the majority – 32 percent – were permits pulled in Queens. Another 22 percent were pulled in Manhattan, 21 percent in Brooklyn, 17 percent in the Bronx and 8 percent in Staten Island.

Crain’s reports that the majority of the residences being built are five units or more, showing that smaller companies are still having a difficult time getting project funding.

Yet that is no reason for any employer to skimp on safety standards on the job site. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that residential construction site falls are often due to improper ladder use. Here are some tips to help avoid this specific type of residential construction fall in Great Neck:

-Make sure you have chosen the correct ladder for the job. Check to make sure that it is in fact a ladder you need, as opposed to a mechanical lift or scaffolding.

-Ask yourself whether the ladder is long enough and whether it is in good working condition.

-Secure the bottom and top of the ladder to fixed points. It only takes a few minutes, but it can mean the difference between a serious fall and returning home without injury.

-When you climb up the ladder, make sure you aren’t carrying tools or anything else in your hands, which should be used solely to ascend and descend. Put tools or other needed items on your tool belt.
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The construction of a Queens casino that lead to six-figure fines by a government agency for safety violations could also lead to a New York workers’ compensation claim.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration, five contractors were recently cited for alleged hazards in the construction of a casino at the old Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.
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Employers have a duty to ensure that their workers are kept safe at work. That not only means making sure that hazards, such as spills, the possibility of fall hazards, electrical problems and other commonly blamed incidents for workplace injuries are avoided, but also providing training for employees.

When most people think of workplace injuries, they look at construction scenes. With shaky scaffolding and a work-in-progress scene with power tools, heavy machinery, workers at tall heights and other hazards around, that’s usually the main place that workers get injured.

But that’s not the only place. Workers’ compensation claims can be filed for employers who are injured at seemingly mundane office complexes. Spills, electrical issues and overstocked rooms are all reasons that can cause a person to be injured on the job. Also, injuries in vehicle accidents on work projects also may allow a person to seek workers’ compensation.

Workers’ compensation laws are designed to help workers who are injured on the job. But the laws are complex and can be difficult to navigate. Trust an experienced Long Island workers’ compensation lawyer to help you if you are hurt at work and require compensation.

According to OSHA, five contractors have been cited for safety hazards. The government agency has proposed fines of more than $127,000 because of it. Four contractors were cited for allegedly providing inadequate safeguards to protect workers who could be exposed to airborne lead while they are torch cutting. A fifth contractor was cited for allegedly not providing fall protection and training.

OSHA inspectors found evidence that workers were exposed to high levels of lead, protective controls to cut down on that exposure weren’t put in place, respiratory protection and protective clothing wasn’t given to workers, there were no showers or places to change into clean clothes, and employees weren’t given the results of soil and air samples taken at the site.

These serious violations could end up leading to major health problems for the workers, even with the intervention of OSHA. Workplace injuries can not only apply to cuts and bruises and other outer-body injuries, but also cancers and inner ailments that pop up as a result of precautions not taken by employers or because of hazards at work.

Construction contractors understand they have many state and federal laws that they have to follow. Most do a good job, but others lag behind. Part of the reasoning could be financial. It usually costs money to provide training, more equipment and other things needed to comply with the laws.

Not complying can lead to health hazards, which can lead to work injuries. Workers must be smart and cautious, but even that may not be able to prevent the problems that their companies create without proper precautions.
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