Understanding construction safety as part of liability defense

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2021 | Injuries |

Construction is a booming business in New York City. This is true despite societal challenges that have engulfed individuals and businesses across the nation in the past year-plus. As the situation improves, projects are again in progress. Of course, this is beneficial in many ways including the job market, with the economy and for people to move forward with long-held plans that needed to be put aside for the time being.

The benefits do not eliminate the risk and it is unquestionable that construction projects carry with them a certain level of danger for workers, passersby and others. Safety is paramount and for businesses involved in construction, it is imperative to adhere to the requirements for a safe and secure workplace. Still, accidents are unavoidable and if there are liability claims, owners, general contractors, architects and others should know the process to formulating a defense with professional assistance.

New construction safety bills introduced by New York City Council

Safety bills and current laws should be understood in their entirety as they could be a crucial aspect of defending against liability claims. The New York City Council has introduced five new bills aimed at construction safety. There are also amendments that are set to chance current codes for building construction. The goal is, understandably, to improve safety for everyone. The Department of Buildings cites past enhancements to safety training for its dramatic improvement with a reduction in construction injuries of more than one-third from when they were implemented in 2018.

The bills vary in their requirements. One will mandate that general contractors have a license issued by the DOB with certain credentials being in place beforehand. If there are violations, the DOB can sanction contractors. A second will place a safety coordinator or manager – licensed by the DOB – on projects that are at least seven stories. There are other bills that would impact specific types of construction work. The amendments are set to address safety overall, protect people from fire, change inspection protocol, alter emergency response and oversee improvements to elevator safety.

The DOB keeps track of safety on construction sites and issues fines after accidents and injuries due to violations. Recently, some examples include a nearly $60,000 fine for a construction management firm following a worker falling to his death. The worker’s credentials for the job were current, but the site had safety issues, leading to the fine. These included workers not having adequate training for safety, missing guard rails, unmaintained safety netting and more. Other incidents on different sites resulted in fines. Examples are a lack of overhead protection, trucks blocking pedestrian traffic, lack of maintenance and missing certificates of operation for an articulating boom truck. These were throughout the five boroughs.

Insurance defense often lies within the laws of the state

When there is an accident on a construction site, people will want answers as to how and why it happened. New York State law is specific with its classification of workers who are granted specific protections when they are working in construction whether that is in building, renovating, maintaining, altering, painting on the project and more. General contractors and agents are separate from being subject to these laws, but could find themselves being held responsible for injuries and deaths that happen on these sites. Insurance defense is essential.

Construction site liability can be complicated and is often viewed from the perspective of the injured party or the family left behind. That ignores the reality that there are two sides to the story. Formulating a defense against insurance claims and avoiding unwarranted liability is a critical aspect of business. The interpretation of the law and crafting a viable defense based on that is a basic aspect of being shielded from liability. Having professional assistance with these difficult cases can be helpful with a successful outcome.


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