Construction Site Accidents: Who’s at Risk?

Workplace accidents can ostensibly occur in any work atmosphere, with the responsibility for providing a safe working environment resting on the shoulders of the employer. However, construction sites seems to offer a more hazardous locale than other workplace environments, such as a store or office setting. This need not be the case, and construction accidents can be easily prevented by putting into place rigid and enforceable safety practices at all construction sites. For example, the general contractor and all subcontractors should be required to create and maintain a reasonably safe work site, with warnings of any dangers inherent in the site and the work to be done there. There should also be an emphasis put on the hiring of careful employees, with coordination of job safety as well as supervision to ensure compliance with all safety specifications. Additionally, all site workers should be adequately trained in the proper operation of all equipment on site and the site itself must be managed in keeping with all legal standards in order to prevent any construction sit accidents.

Even with precautions and adherence to safety practices, construction site injuries can still occur due to the inadequacy of these provisions. Accidents involving defective or collapsing scaffolds can result in construction site accident cases; falls off of or through roofing structures; electrocutions; falls off of ladders; defective machinery such as cranes, hoists, conveyors, tractors, and forklifts; malfunctioning construction equipment or other tools; and the collapse of floors or walls. The kinds of construction site accidents often result in serious injury and can sometimes even result in death. In fact, thousands of construction workers are injured or killed in construction site accidents each year.

Construction Site Accidents and Workers’ Compensation

Virtually all significant injuries suffered in construction site accidents give rise to workers’ compensation rights. The Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits to workers who are injured on the job. Unfortunately, Workers’ Compensation alone may be insufficient compensation especially in the case of very serious and catastrophic personal injuries which happen often in construction site accidents. The rights are dependent on the interpretation and application of several complicated laws and individual circumstances of the construction accident.

However, these limited workers’ compensation rights may be supplemented by legal actions against others who have responsibility for various activities on a construction site including construction managers, general contractors, subcontractors, equipment manufacturers, etc. When a construction site accident occurs, the owners, architects, insurance companies and manufacturers of equipment can be held responsible for inadequate safety provisions.

As an example, in many construction undertakings, several different contractors are involved. Full damages can be recovered if any contractor other than the direct employer has responsibility for the injuries. Likewise, if a defective tool, machine, or other product causes injury, an injured worker can be fully compensated.

LegalView.com is an online resource with information on a variety of legal matters. At http://www.legalview.com/ , visitors can access a large number of resources, including an attorney referral service. The referral service can put individuals in touch with experienced legal counsel, such as a brain injury lawyer or a mesothelioma attorney. For more information on construction accident litigation visit http://construction.legalview.com/.

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How Can I Recover Money To Get Defective Building Work Fixed?

Things are already going pretty badly for you. Instead of fulfilling your dreams, your building work has turned out to be a nightmare. So of course, you want to know if there’s some way you can get it fixed. In New South Wales, the Home Building Act sets out a dispute resolution procedure to get the builder to rectify any defective work. If the builder won’t co-operate, then you can make a claim to your home warranty insurer.

Ask first

First of all, the Office recommends that you try dealing directly with your builder. After all, it could just be a misunderstanding or something they haven’t noticed; they might be prepared to save themselves some hassle by fixing it up for you straightaway. If you’re not getting anywhere in discussion, you’re advised to send your objections to the builder in writing – by registered mail, so you’ve got proof of writing.

Orders please

By the sound of it, though, you’ve already gone past this stage. You’re already talking about recovering money. The next stage is to take your concerns to the Office of Fair Trading. They can send out an Inspector from the Home Building Service, who will examine the work in the presence of you and the builder. If they agree that there are defects, they can issue the builder with a Rectification Order, which will state what needs fixing, how it is to be fixed, and when this should be done. But again, you seem to have gone beyond this stage as well – you don’t just want it fixed, you need cash to pay for it.

Try the Tribunal

If this doesn’t work, you can try lodging your claim with the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal. If the tribunal agrees that rectification work needs to be done, it can order the builder to pay you for it, including compensation if this is appropriate. Other orders the tribunal can give include relief from payment, the delivery, return and replacement of items, and disciplinary action against the builder. However, there are limits to the Consumer, Trader, and Tenancy Tribunal’s jurisdiction, or you may not agree with its decision – if the sum involved is substantial, you may have to go to court.

Insurance

The Home Building Act also sets up a home warranty insurance scheme, which provides protection for consumers against faulty and incomplete residential building work. The Act currently requires insurance where the value of the work is over $12,000. If the defective work was undertaken after May 1997 and caused you a financial loss, and the builder has refused to fix the work or pay compensation, you may be able to make a claim on the private insurer named in the certificate of home warranty insurance.

The procedure is going to be similar to the one above. First, you should contact the insurer directly and ask about their policy and how you can make the claim. Again, you should set out your claim in writing (some insurers prefer you to use their forms, but you don’t have to), send it by registered mail, and keep a copy. You should notify the insurer if you have made or make a claim against the builder.

If you aren’t happy with the insurer’s decision, you can lodge a claim with the Tribunal, but it must be within 45 days.

Frank Egan is the Chief Executive Officer of LAC Building Construction Lawyers and has over 27 years of experience as a lawyer.

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New York Scaffold Law Protects New York Construction Workers

There is a great deal of misinformation concerning the New York Scaffold Law. The Insurance and Business Community are wrong when they say that construction workers who are “lax about wearing safety gear” and fall from a height and are injured can hold their employer liable under New York Labor Law Section 240, the “scaffold law.” The Court of Appeals ruled definitively in /Cahill v. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority/ that if a worker has been informed about and given safety equipment and fails to use it “for no good reason,” the employer cannot be held liable under the scaffold law for any resulting injuries.

Indeed, under the scaffold law, if a worker is the sole cause for whatever reason of his or her injury, the owner or general contractor cannot be held liable. An owner or general contractor can be held liable for a worker’s injuries only if their failure to provide appropriate safety equipment for work at an elevated height, like harnesses and properly constructed scaffolding, was the cause of the injuries.

The authors are also wrong when they blame rising contractor liability insurance on the scaffold law. In recent years, contractor liability insurance premiums have risen just as fast or even faster in many states – and in some countries – that have no scaffold law. In the United Kingdom, contractors report that liability insurance hikes of up 300% and more are putting many of them out of business.

Enforcement of construction safety by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been weak and ineffective. Without the scaffold law, the numbers of construction worker injuries and deaths in New York would surely be greater.
Angelo G. Faraci is the founding partner of Faraci Lange, one of Western New York’s leading personal injury firms. He can be reached at (585) 325-5150 or info@faraci.com. You can also visit us at www.faraci.com.

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