How OSHA Regulations Affect Construction Laborers
New York City construction accident lawyers explain your legal rights.
Construction workers often sustain serious injuries on the job. That’s why there are so many regulations designed to prevent construction accidents.
Many of these regulations were created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency with the power to enforce federal laws to protect workers.
How common are construction accidents?
Construction is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Each year, nearly 1 in 5 work-related accidents involve construction workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Historically, the construction industry has the second-highest overall work-related fatality rate of any industry, just behind transportation. Each year, on average, roughly 950 construction workers die in work accidents, according to BLS’s annual National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
As for non-fatal injuries, each year, roughly 144,000 construction workers sustain work-related injuries or illnesses that require them to miss work, according to the BLS workplace injury data.
What OSHA laws apply to construction work?
OSHA is constantly updating and revising its regulations governing the construction industry. As a result, numerous OSHA rules and regulations apply to construction workers. Many of these laws can be found in OSHA Standard, Part 1926, which includes the “Safety and Health Regulations for Construction.”
OSHA Standard, Part 1926 has 29 subparts, from OSHA Standard 1926 Subpart A (general regulations) to OSHA Standard 1926 Subpart CC (cranes and derricks in construction). And within each subpart, there are dozens of specific rules governing the construction industry.
This is one reason why it’s critical that injured workers talk to a construction accident attorney as soon as possible to fully understand their legal rights.
Construction inspection regulations
OSHA tries to protect construction workers by regularly inspecting construction sites. OSHA has several regulations governing construction inspections, including OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart A 1926.3 (Inspections – Right of Entry).
This regulation empowers inspectors to investigate construction sites to make sure they are in full compliance with all OSHA regulations, as well as all other applicable workplace safety and health standards.
Construction accident reporting requirements
If a construction accident that results in an injury or fatality does occur, construction companies are required by law to report it to OSHA. The requirements for reporting construction accident injuries can be found in OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart C 1926.22 (Recording and Reporting of Injuries). All in-patient hospitalizations of injured construction workers must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours of the injury.
If a construction accident fatality occurs, the construction company must report the fatality to OSHA within 8 hours. An OSHA inspector from the nearest OSHA office will then likely investigate the construction fatality. In New York State, OSHA has seven regional offices, including two in the New York City area – the Manhattan Area Office and the Queens District Office of the Manhattan Area Office.
Each year, work-related scaffolding accidents cause roughly 4,500 injuries and 60 fatalities, according to BLS data.
In an effort to protect construction employees who work on scaffolding, OSHA has an entire section of regulations devoted to scaffolding work – OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart L Scaffolds. Within this section, there are 10 subsections that apply to scaffolding.
Unfortunately, many construction companies fail to abide by these regulations. More than 2,800 violations of OSHA Scaffolds Standard 1926, Subpart L 1926.451 occur each year on average.
New York State also has several regulations that apply to scaffolding, including Labor Law 240.
What is New York Labor Law 240?
New York State Labor Law 240, often referred to as the "Scaffold Law," pertains to construction and construction-related activities within the state. This law places responsibility on property owners and contractors to ensure the safety of workers who are engaged in tasks involving scaffolding, ladders, hoists, and other similar equipment at elevated heights.
The primary objective of this law is to protect workers from accidents and injuries that may occur due to the inherent risks associated with working at heights.
Under New York State Labor Law 240, property owners and contractors are held liable for accidents resulting from inadequate safety measures. This includes situations where workers fall from elevated surfaces or when objects fall from heights and injure workers.
The law imposes a strict liability standard, meaning that negligence does not need to be proven for liability to apply. Property owners and contractors are obligated to provide necessary safety equipment and safeguards to prevent such accidents.
In the event of a violation of New York State Labor Law 240, injured workers may be entitled to seek compensation for their injuries and related expenses. The law aims to ensure that workers in construction and related industries are protected and have recourse if they suffer harm due to unsafe conditions at elevated work sites.
Overall, New York State Labor Law 240 serves as a vital legal framework to safeguard the well-being of construction workers in the state by placing the onus on property owners and contractors to maintain a safe working environment at elevated heights.
OSHA fall regulations
Falls from a height and slip and fall accidents on construction sites frequently result in serious injuries or fatalities. Historically, 1 out of 3 construction fatalities are a result of falls, according to BLS workplace accident data.
OSHA has several regulations governing construction-related fall accidents, specifically OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart M, Fall Protection, which has nine separate subsections involving fall protection, training requirements, and guardrail regulations.
There are also OSHA fall-related regulations involving scaffolding (OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart L, App B), steel erection (OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart R, 1926.760), and construction cranes and derricks (OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart CC, 1926.1423).
Violations involving fall protection are often among the most common OSHA workplace safety violations each year. On average, OSHA issues more than 7,000 violations each year for failure to comply with OSHA Standard 1926.501, known as “Duty To Have Fall Protection.”
In recent years, the number of trench-related fatalities has increased dramatically nationwide, according to OSHA workplace accident data.
This is why OSHA has several rules and regulations governing trench and excavation work. Many of these regulations can be found in OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart P – Excavations, especially in the subsections involving timber shoring for trenches and aluminum hydraulic shoring for trenches.
Many of these OSHA regulations involving trenches are designed to prevent cave-in collapses.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) regulations
Construction work requires the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Such equipment includes protective safety goggles, hard hats, respirators, hearing protection, hand protection, and foot protection.
This is why OSHA has many protective equipment regulations that govern providing construction workers with PPE and training workers on how to properly use and wear PPE.
Many of these OSHA PPE regulations can be found in OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart C, 1926.28 (Personal Protective Equipment) and OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart E – Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment.
OSHA also has additional PPE requirements for specific types of construction work, including PPE requirements for hazardous waste operations, excavation work, electric power transmission work, and guidelines governing rollover protection and overhead protection.
Seeking legal help after a construction accident
Construction accidents often quickly turn into complicated legal cases. This is especially true if a construction company failed to follow OSHA regulations. When this happens, construction companies and their attorneys often take a defensive position and do everything they can to deny doing anything wrong.
Whatever the circumstances of your construction accident, don’t simply assume you will be fairly compensated for your injury-related expenses. You have a right to workers’ compensation benefits and potentially other compensation depending on the circumstances of the accident. However, you need an experienced attorney on your side to fight for the full compensation you need and deserve.
Our New York City construction accident lawyers at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP can help you every step of the way. We have decades of experience successfully handling complex construction accident injury claims and lawsuits. As a result, we can work with you to develop a strategy that best suits your specific case.
Learn more about your legal rights. Contact our law firm and schedule an appointment with a New York construction accident attorney focused on your personal needs.
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