New York construction sites are notorious for accidents and safety violations. In recent months, numerous work injuries and two deaths have been reported from workers falling. Falls from heights are among the most common accidents on construction sites, and a recent tragedy highlights the importance of fall prevention.
Across the country, safety advocates and workers alike may be joyfully sharing the latest news regarding injuries and fatalities in the workplace. According to the latest government statistics, overall fatalities from work injuries in New York and several other states have declined. However, a closer look at the data shows a darker side to the research.
Construction seems to be a perennial event in New York. Whether it is a new building being raised or an old one receiving much-needed upgrades, the men and women on the front lines of construction know they risk work injuries every day. Part of what makes construction dangerous is the element of the unknown. From changing weather conditions to the failure of a safety device, at any moment, a routine day can turn into disaster.
Under most circumstances, construction workers who are injured on the job may claim benefits from workers' compensation insurance. These benefits cover medical bills, rehabilitation and lost wages. Additionally, workers' compensation provides death benefits to surviving families when their loved ones die as the result of a workplace accident. As reassuring as that may sound, most New York families would prefer that construction company owners would simply make the work environment as safe as possible to avoid those catastrophic work injuries.
While most people suffer an injury on the job at one time or another, construction accidents are seldom minor incidents. An accident at a construction site may mean work injuries that can be permanently disabling or even fatal. Recently, a New York man was injured in an mishap that could have been disastrous.
Back injuries, broken bones and shoulder strain may be familiar injuries to many New York workers. Those in the construction industry are no strangers to work injuries that can alter a person's life in a split second. However, injuries that do not get much press are those related to the eyes. Eye injuries in the workplace affect about 2,000 workers a year and are almost entirely preventable.
It may not take a study to show that some jobs are inherently dangerous. Most people in New York can probably guess that construction, farming and truck driving are among jobs that claim the most lives across the country. Jobs that include working from heights, exposure to harsh chemicals or operating heavy equipment are usually categorized among the most risky. However, new research shows that work injuries can also be categorized by race and ethnicity.
Construction workers in New York surely do not like to hear about fellow workers being injured on the job. Even if those work injuries took place in another state, such accidents are stark reminders of the constant danger of working in high places around heavy equipment. Such an accident in a midwestern state has left a worker fighting for his life.
When workers in New York are hurt on the job, they may spend weeks or months recovering. Many never overcome the pain of their injuries, but they may agree that they are luckier than others whose injuries were too severe to survive. Most work injuries are preventable, but the prevention must begin long before a worker straps on his or her protective equipment.
For over a century, New York and other states have regulated individual systems of workers' compensation insurance to protect those who are injured on the job. Compensation for work injuries is provided by employers in exchange for protection against lawsuits for those injuries. However, recent investigations show that employees may not be able to depend on getting adequate help as long as states continue to cut benefits and complicate the process of claiming compensation.