City Issues Record Number of Stop-Work Orders at Construction Sites

The Real Deal reported that, in response to the number of construction-related fatalities in the past year, the New York City Department of Buildings has given out 4,580 stop-work orders in the first half of this year. This is the highest number of stop-work orders issued by the agency.

According to a Politico article, the number of stop-work orders issued in the first half of 2016 is 70% greater than it was during the first six months of 2012, when the Buildings Department issued 2,701 stop-work orders. In the first half of 2013, only 2,511 orders were issued, but that number increased over the next two years, to 3,172 in 2014 and 3,738 the following year.

Stop-work orders are issued to construction sites that have been cited for violations. This prevents any work from being done at the site until any fines are paid and any related problems at the site are remedied. A stop-work order can also be given out if the work is not done with a proper permit. The most common violations that warrant a stop-work order, according to the Politico article, are guard rails missing from the premises and gaping holes which could cause a worker’s injury or death.

The Real Deal reported that, so far this year, there have been at least 16 construction-related fatalities. The most notable occurred in February, when a 15-story crane collapsed in the Tribeca section of the city, killing a pedestrian and injuring 15 others. One stop-work order was issued this year for a roof installation project in Queens, in which one worker was killed and another was injured; according to Politico, the work was performed without a permit.

If you have been involved in a construction site accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and remedies. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

Construction Firm Requires Workers to Wear Safety Harnesses

A construction company that is currently working on the Hudson Yards project and a new emergency room for New York-Presbyterian Hospital is calling on all workers on job sites statewide to wear safety harnesses when working six feet above the ground and wants the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to adopt the company’s policy.

Crains New York Business reported that Gilbane Building Co. has a policy for its employees to hook into a safety harness above six feet — which goes beyond what OSHA currently requires. According to federal guidelines, construction workers do not need a harness until they are 25 feet up and those working on scaffolds must be at least 10 feet above ground before they are required to wear a harness, which only requires a single-hook attachment. Gilbane’s workers use a two-hook attachment, which allows them to remove one of the hooks as they move up and remain attached to something.

Gilbane made this announcement to coincide with OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down To Prevent Falls in Construction event. Other companies, such as Lendlease, a national contractor with operations in New York City, have adopted a workplace safety policy similar to Gilbane’s, according to ConstructionDIVE.

The New York City Department of Buildings indicated it supports any measures that would improve workplace safety at a construction site. OSHA did not comment on Gilbane’s idea.

According to Gilbane, since the firm implemented the policy five years ago, 20 workers who would have otherwise been injured or killed from potentially fatal falls were saved because of the harnesses and the company’s six-foot rule.

If you are a construction worker who has suffered injury due to a height-related accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable about construction accidents to discuss your legal rights and remedies. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600

OSHA Hits Construction Company with 11 Safety Violations at WV Worksite

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited a construction firm for eleven separate workplace safety violations that occurred at a worksite in Fairmont, West Virginia and possibly faces more than $146,000 in penalties.

WorkCompCentral reported that M&M Construction LLC, d/b/a Michael Jones Contracting, was given two “willful” violations by OSHA for not requiring workers to wear protective gear for their eyes and faces when using a power saw to cut metal and not installing fall protection devices for workers who were removing shingles off a roof. According to OSHA, those employees were at risk of falling from a height of 15 to 19 feet.

In addition, OSHA cited even more hazards it deemed as “serious.” The agency said the company endangered its workers by not grounding electrical equipment with fault circuit disruptors; requiring them to work near overhead power lines, providing extension cords with worn-out insulation — thereby exposing them to shock hazards — and failing to train workers on recognizing hazards when building, taking down and moving scaffolds. The company also was cited for putting the structure in danger by bridging together scaffold platforms and using different scaffolds from various manufacturers.

If you are a construction worker who has suffered injury due to a company’s negligence, contact a personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in handling claims arising from New York City construction accidents. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600.

Las Políticas de Emergencia de Crawler Cranes Pueden ser Revertidas

Según un accidente ocurrido el 5 de febrero de 2016, donde una grúa mató a un transúnte que pasaba cuando la grúa trabajaba en una terraza de la calle donde se encontraba el peatón, la ciudad ha recurrido a una prohibición de emergencia que deshabilita el uso de las grúas del tipo crawler si la velocidad del viento alcanza o supera las 20 millas por hora. Anteriormente, el límite era de 30 millas por hora, o lo que establecieran las quias del fabricante si esto fueron menos. Un grupo de trabajadores ha propuesto que se levante la prohibición de emergencia, estableciendo los límites pasados, hasta que el Grupo de Trabajadores Técnicos complete la revisión del accidente en los próximos tres meses.

Las grúas crawler, tal como la que se vio involucrada en el reciente accidente, pueden ser conducidas como si fueran tanques. El jefe de U.S. Crane & Rigging, Tom Auringer, declaró que el tipo de grúa involucrada en el accidente de febrero es completamente susceptible al error del operador si se la utiliza de la forma en la cual sucedió cuando colapsó. El sr. Auringer además explicó que este tipo de grúas pueden utilizarse con diferentes velocidades de viento según su forma de utilización, incluyendo vientos de 20 a 30 millas por hora. Además, él le señaló a los oficiales que en múltiples accidentes desde 1999, las grúas han sido utilizadas de formas indebidas y que la causa de los accidentes se debía a errores operativos.

Si la ciudad adopta esta propuesta, los límites de la velocidad del viento serán revertidos a los estándares anteriores de 30 millas por hora, lo que permitirá las prácticas de construcción y estas podrán proceder como antes de la prohibición. Además, el grupo de trabajadores sugirió que un operador esté presente cuando estas grúas no estén diseñadas para operar al menos con vientos a 30 millas por hora y que se asegure que se las utilice de forma segura, y también cuando estas se encuentran en modo de almacenamiento. El grupo también recomendó que las grúas que no son capaces de funcionar de forma apropiada con vientos de 20 millas por hora sean prohibidas en áreas públicas.

Los accidentes de construcción con frecuencia pueden prevenirse si se toman las medidas de precaución indicadas. Si has sufrido un lesionado, o si algún ser querido ha fallecido en un accidente de construcción, es posible que te merezcas una compensación. Contacta a un abogado que tenga experiencia en representar a clientes que han sufrido este tipo de accidentes. Llama a Arze & Mollica, LLP al (718) 996-5600 y realiza tu consulta hoy.

Crawler Cranes Emergency Policies May Be Reversed

Following a February 5, 2016 crane accident that killed a passerby when the crane working on a rooftop toppled over onto the street below, the city put an emergency ban in place which disallowed the use of crawler cranes if the wind speeds reached 20 miles-per-hour or above. Previously, the limit was 30 miles-per-hour, or what the manufacturer’s guidelines stated if it was lower. A working group has proposed the emergency ban be lifted, thereby reinstating the old limits, until the Technical Working Group completes its review of the crane accident in the next three months.

Crawler cranes, like the one that was involved in the recent accident, can be driven around on tank-like treads. The head of U.S. Crane & Rigging, Tom Auringer, stated that the type of crawler crane involved in the February accident is strongly susceptible to operator error if used in the manner in which it was when it collapsed. Mr. Auringer further explained that crawler cranes can be used at differing wind speeds depending on the manner of usage, including winds of 20 to 30 miles-per-hour. Additionally, he told officials that in multiple accidents since 1999, the cranes were improperly used, and the cause of the accidents was operator error.

If the proposal is adopted by the city, the wind speed limits will revert to the old standards of 30 miles-per-hour, allowing construction practices to proceed as they used to before the ban. Additionally, the working group suggested that an operator be present when crawler cranes not designed to operate in at least 30 miles-per-hour winds are used to ensure better safety, and also when the crane is in storage mode. The group also recommended that cranes unable to properly function in 20 miles-per-hour winds be prohibited in public areas.

Construction accidents are frequently preventable with proper safety precautions. If you have been injured, or a loved one has been killed in a construction accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an attorney who is experienced in representing clients who have suffered injuries due to construction site related injuries. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

Sleep Apnea Could be a Leading Cause in Motor Vehicle Accidents

On March 11, 2016 a publication in the Federal Register discussed concerns over the disorder of sleep apnea and its effects on transportation safety. Sleep apnea is a condition which causes an individual to stop and start breathing during the night multiple times, resulting in consistently poor sleep. When it comes to highway and train safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration stated that sleep apnea is viewed as “a critical safety issue that can affect operations in all modes of travel in the transportation industry” because it causes drivers to get inadequate sleep.

Federal regulators are now requesting more data so that they may understand sleep apnea’s effects on transportation more thoroughly. The concern is that if drivers are not properly sleeping, difficulty in concentration, attention, and reduced reaction time will occur. Regulators may implement a screening process for certain industries if the data shows a strong correlation of sleep apnea sufferers and dangerous mistakes on the job, including falling asleep at the wheel.

Some accidents credited to sleep apnea include a July 26, 2000 tractor trailer crash which killed a state trooper and injured one other. The driver of the tractor trailer fell asleep at the wheel and subsequently ran into the state patrol car and other vehicles. The driver had previously been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and had even undergone surgery for it. The driver failed to list his sleep apnea and the surgery on the examinations for medical certification.

In time, the data should show how great of an effect sleep apnea has on transportation accidents. If you have sustained injuries, property damage, or the loss of a loved one occurred as a result of a train, or any motor vehicle accident, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your eligibility for compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you of your legal remedies and rights. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

Laundromat Liability in a Slip and Fall

Laundromats are a necessity for many people who live in apartments and do not have their own washer/dryer to use. While they are a great convenience, patrons of laundromats should also exercise caution. Laundromats are a prime location for slip and falls which can cause serious injuries.

Slip and falls can occur at laundromats due to water or detergent left on the floor. People also slip on forgotten clothing articles and dryer sheets. Therefore, when using a laundromat facility, make sure you look where you are walking. However, even when one exercises the most caution, accidents can still occur. As people may be carrying heavy baskets of clothing, it is not always possible to inspect every step one takes.

If the staff of the laundromat was aware of a hazardous condition, and failed to remedy it, they could be held liable for your injury. Additionally, the laundromat staff is expected to be aware of any dangerous conditions upon reasonable inspection. If there is a condition that the laundromat should have known about, they could also be held liable. For example, because staff would reasonably be expected to make rounds to inspect the premises every few hours, they would also be expected to know whether such a condition existed.

Other injuries that could occur in a laundromat include electric shock due to the risk posed by loose machine wires, as well as other harms posed by defective machines which could cause serious bodily harm.

If you have been injured at a laundromat, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an attorney who is experienced in personal injury matters who can advise you regarding your legal rights and remedies. As there are statutes of limitation in place that may bar your claim after a certain amount of time, it is important to consult an attorney as quickly as possible. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

Construction Worker Run Over by Forklift

On February 19, 2016 Hector O. Duarte-Roque, a construction worker for Montauk Beach Dock and Pile Inc., was building a dock at the Lake Club when he was run over by a forklift. Police are still investigating how the accident occurred, and whether the forklift was defective or not. The police captain stated that criminal charges against the forklift operator seem unlikely, as what happened at the scene “appears purely accidental.”

Mr. Duarte-Roque was directing the forklift which was moving dock material at the time of the accident. The operator did not realize the forklift was dangerously close to the victim until he thought he had struck something and felt “something was amiss,” the captain stated. Mr. Duarte-Roque then crawled out from under the forklift. He was airlifted to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy was performed by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching an independent investigation into whether the safety standards at the construction site were adhered to. OSHA investigators were present at the scene shortly after the accident occurred. The investigation will be concluded within six months and, if violations are found, the employer will be held liable for citations and fines.

If you have been involved in a construction site accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and remedies. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

Five People Indicted For Deadly Manhattan Gas Explosion

Recently, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced five indictments in connection with the Manhattan gas explosion and fire that killed two people. The building’s owners, plumbers and a general contractor were charged with Falsifying Documents, Assault in the Second Degree and Criminally Negligent Homicide.

Prosecutors allege that those indicted recklessly engineered an illegal gas delivery system in the building’s apartments. Authorities said that the unlicensed plumber, who rented his mater plumber’s license from his former partner, installed an unsafe gas hookup, and then engineered a complex, workaround from an uncapped gas meter next door after utility inspectors turned off the gas.

According to District Attorney Vance, an hour before the blast Con Ed workers did an inspection of the building.  The landlord’s son and building superintendent used a valve to shut off the gas supply from the building next door and opened valves to maintain pressure in the system. Vance said that the landlord’s son also told a tenant in the building to tell Con Ed workers that gas had never been supplied to the apartments.

After Con Ed tested the system, the two men turned on the gas supply without checking to see if the opened valves had been closed. The gas flowed freely into the ground-level sushi restaurant located below the apartments. An employee at the restaurant called the landlord’s son about the smell. He allegedly went back into the basement with the superintendent, and the two men sprinted out of the building without telling anyone in the restaurant or apartments above to leave or call 911.

A few minutes later the blast went off. The explosion destroyed buildings, killed two people in one of the destroyed buildings, and left dozens homeless and injured.

If you have been injured due to a landlord’s negligence, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who handles such matters. Arze & Mollica, LLP provides legal representation to individuals who have suffered building, premises or construction injuries throughout New York City.  With offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, and Manhattan, the firm also represents clients in Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  Call (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

 

 

 

False Construction Safety Reports Lead to Jail

With the recent focus on construction site accidents, whether inspectors are properly licensed is of great concern. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Buildings Department recently announced stricter rules and increased fines to combat safety issues at construction sites. According to a New York Times expose, the accident rate at building sites has increased by 52% from the 2014 fiscal year (July 2013-July 2014) to the 2015 fiscal year (July 2014- July 2015). Proper licensing of inspectors and enforcement of construction site rules is essential to preventing further accidents.

A recent criminal prosecution brought to light one of the safety concerns at construction sites regarding the falsification of safety inspection reports. Richard Marini, the head of consulting company Avanti Building Consultants, was recently sentenced to one to three years in state prison for falsifying construction safety inspection reports. Mr. Marini allegedly searched through Craigslist to hire bellhops, musicians, and restaurant workers to sign off on safety logs using either their own names or forging the names of licensed safety inspectors; one of the names belonged to a deceased safety inspector. Avanti Building Consultants inspected approximately 40 sites by representing themselves as licensed inspectors, but it was later found that, in most cases, they were neither licensed nor experienced in construction safety.

According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., from 2012 to 2014, Mr. Marini represented his workers as site managers, interpreted as being actual “Site Safety Managers.” The farce came to an end when a Department of Buildings inspector saw that a safety log was signed by an individual that had died the year before. Mr. Marini and some of his employees were arrested in July 2014, and Mr. Marini pled guilty in late 2015 and is required to pay restitution in the amount of $610,000.

The New York City Buildings Department handles licensing for inspection positions. Site managers must take an exam, undergo a background investigation, and meet one of six different requirements regarding architectural, engineering, or building-inspection experience.

If you have been involved in a construction site accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and remedies. Call Arze & Mollica, LLP at (718) 996-5600 for a consultation today.

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