The news can be extraordinarily repetitive in New York. Nearly every day, it seems like most stations are busy reporting on the latest construction accident which left a worker seriously injured or caused their death. Unfortunately, the reason that these accidents are making headlines so frequently is that they are happening more often. Thankfully, inspectors from the Department of Buildings (DOB) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have been working hard to do everything they can to make sure employers enforce proper safety standards.
Stop Work Orders
In the first six months of 2016, the DOB issued 4,580 stop-work orders – almost 25% more than the same period from the previous year. There are two types of stop-work orders:
- Full Stop Work Order – once this order has been issued, the employer is required to immediately pull all employees from their posts and stop all work, unless that work is directly related to making changes to ensure the site safe.
- Partial Stop Work Order – this order does not prevent certain workers from continuing about their business. It instead specifies which area of the job site and which workers must stop until changes have been made.
When Are Employers Allowed Resume Work?
In order for an employer to lift the stop work order, they must:
- make corrections to all of the violations listed in the order
- pay any fines
- request a re-inspection to prove all violations have been corrected
In some cases, they may have to show a Certificate of Correction which indicates who performed the corrective work and how it was done.
If the stop-work order has been violated, the employer will be fined $5,000 for the first offense and then $10,000 for each additional offense.
What Else Is Being Done To Make Construction Sites Safer?
In addition to an increase in these orders, the DOB has added nearly 100 employees who will be charged with making surprise inspections, has raised the fines for violations nearly four times and has required certain sites to have additional supervision.
The District Attorney’s office is also taking steps to make sure those who violate safety standards and stop work orders are held accountable for their actions. In fact, they formed a construction fraud task force made up of five different city agencies. This team’s job is to investigate any unsafe practices at construction sites, including any issues with bribery, extortion, larceny, and safety violations.
The DA has already successfully pursued justice in one notable case, when a contractor was found guilty of manslaughter after a 22-year-old man died when a trench caved in and suffocated him. During the trial, it was determined that the contractor had been issued a stop work order regarding the trench by an OSHA inspector, which they ignored.
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Injury Was Caused By Safety Violations?
If you or a loved one suspect that your employer has not implemented the correct safety standards, you should contact OSHA or the DOB right away about your concerns. Don’t worry about how your employer may react, the Whistleblower Act protects employees from retaliation.
In addition to filing a report, you should contact a construction accident attorney as soon as possible. While dealing with the pain and stress associated with healing from a serious injury, an attorney can help in a number of ways, including:
- assisting with filling out and filing a workers’ compensation claim
- investigating the accident and determining if a third-party was at fault
- informing you of all legal avenues available in your case
- handling all communication with insurance companies
Has Your Firm Handled Construction Accident Cases?
Yes. We have assisted hundreds of workers who were injured in construction accidents in New York. Our motto is “We take Personal Injury Cases Very Personally” and we do everything within our power to obtain our clients the compensation the need, whether it be through a personal injury lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim, or both.