No worker should have to bargain his health or life for pay.
How safe is your workplace?
The safety of your workplace varies based on various factors inclusive of the work you perform, the conditions you face, and the safety and health procedures followed. Nationwide, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015 in the US based on data available from private industry employers. Workplace illnesses accounted for 4.8 percent of this figure and long-term latent illnesses are believed to be understated due to the nature of exposures. Of the 4,836 workers that died nationwide, 937 were construction workers. In New York State, BLS reported 236 workplace fatalities in 2014, 53 of those who died worked in the construction industry with 25 deaths related to falls, 10 related to transportation accidents, 6 related to toxic exposure or harmful and 11 from stuck by incidents and 1 due to the work environment.
What are the most dangerous jobs?
Both nationwide and statewide data once again sadly demonstrates that workers in the construction industry face significantly high, unacceptable risks of not being able to return after work in some condition that they were in when they left.
As a former OSHA qualified construction instructor and former director of the NYS Building Trades, Attorney Dubanevich can say with a high degree of certainty that the majority if not all of these deaths could have been prevented if these employers would have provided the required and proper safety and health training, as well as protective equipment.
Construction work at elevated heights is especially hazardous, and contractors are more likely to violate health and safety standards in this category. In the wake of these preventable deaths, the business and insurance industry lobby have stepped up their efforts to weaken New York’s Scaffold Safety Law (Section 240 of the Labor Law), which gives injured workers and families of dead ones the opportunity to seek compensation in the New York courts for their injuries, ongoing medical treatment and lost wages.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that the construction workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the country, specifically those jobs where workers have to work at elevated heights. Approximately sixty-five percent of construction workers in NYC work on dangerous scaffolds where they are at risk of falling. Other construction workers face fall hazards such as open unprotected stairways and elevator shafts, and are not provided with the required fall protection systems.
Many workers also face significant risks of coming down with serious illness from exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos, silica, benzene, carbon monoxide and other substances an
Is there a difference between a safety hazard and a health hazard?
Safety and health are two distinct areas of focus in the workplace. Safety issues generally relate to physical injuries that effect the body such as falls, being struck by falling objects, equipment or vehicles. Health hazards relate to exposure to toxic substances that enter can enter the body through breathing or skin absorption and potentially damage major organs, the central nervous system or cause cancer, such as exposure to chemical vapors, asbestos and silica. Another difference is that safety hazard can cause an immediate physical bodily injury unlike toxic exposure where an illness that take years to develop or manifest in the body.
What are the most serious safety hazards affecting workers?
- The most serious workplace hazards in as reported by OSHA are:
- Falls from ladders, scaffolds and unprotected heights
- Trench or excavation cave-ins and collapses
- Oxygen deficient confined spaces
What are the most serious health hazards affecting workers?
- Workers face a range of health hazards related to exposure to toxic chemical vapors from herbicides, solvents, lubricants, inks, degreasers cleaning agents, petroleum, dust and fibers.
- Benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produce vapors that can enter the body through inhalation or skin absorption. Benzene can cause Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
- VOCs, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides target the kidneys, the lungs and other organs and cause cancer.
- Asbestos exposure can cause asbestosis and Mesothelioma.
- Exposure to silica can cause silicosis.
- Dust inhalation can cause serious lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
How do I get the help I deserve if I am injured on the job?
A worker who sustains a workplace injury or illness cannot sue the employer directly due the Worker’s Compensation laws. Workers compensation is a “no-fault” system which potentially pays the injured worker a small percentage of loss wages and covers medical expenses. It is an adversarial system where the employer’s insurance company fights to not pay the worker. In New York State, firefighters, police officers and teachers are exempt from worker compensation laws and have the ability to directly sue their employers for worker related injuries and illnesses.
Workers’ compensation laws do not bar injured workers from holding other entities responsible for injury causing event. These include property owners, property management companies, prime and general contractors, sub-contractors or companies directing and or controlling the work. If the injury is caused by a defective or an unsafe tool or equipment the manufacturer may also be responsible based on product liability law.
As a the former Director of Safety and Health for the NYS Building and Construction Trades’ Council and former construction and factory worker, Attorney Dubanevich experienced firsthand the safety and health issues affecting workers. With this knowledge he effectively represents construction workers and workers across all industries who suffer a workplace injury or illness not matter what the cause.
Our mission is to get you justice and compensation for the workplace injury or illness you suffer. Call us for a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if we are able to obtain money damages for you. Call us so that we can help you.
Articles on Workplace Illness and Injury
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