OSHA Announces Measures to Strengthen Enforcement of Whistleblower Protection Program

There are 21 federal statutes that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforce to protect employees who report violations of workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.

The whistleblower provision laws inhibit an employer’s ability to retaliate against any employees that bring up concerns with the workplace or give protected information to the employer or the government. Based upon the findings of an audit of OSHAs whistleblower program performed by the Government Accountability Office … Read the rest

Weight of Falling Object, Not Just Height Differential, Can Implicate Absolute Liability Under Labor Law

The 39-foot, 1,300-pound rail fell only 12-16 inches onto plaintiff’s right leg. It occurred when the plaintiff and his coworkers were using rail hooks to move the rail on top of another rail at the Steinway subway station in Queens. Upon the callman’s signal, the plaintiff’s coworkers began lifting the rail off the ground, but the plaintiff’s hooks were not in place and he was not ready to begin lifting. This allegedly caused the team to lose control of the rail and resulted in the rail falling. Under this scenario, there is an issue of fact whether Labor Law 240(1) … Read the rest

More Statistics From the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries – Falls, Construction Workers, Minority Workers

Certain statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (B.L.S.) of the U.S. Department of Labor preliminary results of its 2009 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries warrant more attention than in our last blog post. The study contains specific tables analyzing fatal falls by the type of falls, fatal work injuries in the private construction industry by the type of work being performed, and the demographic relationship between workers and fatalities.

Fatal falls by type of falls: From ladder – 20% From roof – 18% On same level 13% From nonmoving vehicle 12% From scaffold, staging 9% From floor, dock … Read the rest

Workplace Injuries in 2009 at Their Lowest Since Being First Compiled in 1992

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (B.L.S.) of the U.S. Department of Labor released its preliminary results of its 2009 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries last month. A preliminary total of 4,340 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2009, down from a final count of 5,214 fatal work injuries in 2008. The 2009 total represents the smallest annual preliminary total since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program was first conducted in 1992. The B.L.S. suggested some economic explanations rather than better safety practices for the results.

The B.L.S. noted that total hours worked fell … Read the rest

A Busy Season for Criminal Proceedings Involving Construction Cranes

Two deadly crane collapses in 2008, ignited furious investigations into the world of construction cranes and their safety, or lack thereof. Crane rigger William Rapetti has been indicted for manslaughter. Although not involved in the crane collapses, one investigation led to the guilty plea by James Delayo, the city’s former chief crane inspector, pleaded guilty in March to approving cranes that he had not inspected, and issuing operators licenses to people who had not earned them.

Nu-Way Crane Service owner Michael Sackaris pleaded guilty in May to paying one such bribe. Nu-Way employee Michael Pascalli guilty to a misdemeanor charge … Read the rest

NYC Department of Buildings Announces Construction Site Accident Statistics for 2009

New York City Buildings Commissioner announced an 84% decrease in fatal construction-related accidents in New York City in 2009 when compared to the previous year. However, the total number of construction-related accidents and injuries rose in 2009. The Department attributes the increase primarily to more accident reporting by industry members.

The total number of reported construction accidents rose from 151 in 2008 to 224 in 2009, and the total number of reported injuries rose from 178 in 2008 to 246 in 2009. The Department also headed-off a conclusion that the decrease in fatal construction-related accidents was due to reduced construction … Read the rest

Does Anybody See Those On-Line NYC Buildings Department Advisories to Take Precautionary Steps at Construction Sites In Preparation for Gusts Of High Wind?

New York City didn’t get the snowstorm forecasted for this past weekend, but the City Department of Buildings issued whats become its customary and standard warning to contractors to secure construction sites when the forecast calls for severe weather and gusts of high winds.

A review of the Buildings Departments website reveals that it has been routinely issuing such advisories on-line for several years. Yet just 2 weeks ago a 15-block area near City Hall Park was closed to pedestrians and traffic after high winds scattered debris from a nearby construction site where a 77-story tower is being built on … Read the rest

Their Constitutional Rights Vindicated, Nursing Home Nurses and Their Attorney Continue to Fight the Good Fight

One of my favorite court decisions of 2009 was the Appellate Division, Second Department decision in Vinluan v. Doyle, 60 A.D.3d 237, 873 N.Y.S.2d 72. This is so because of the eloquent and impassioned defense of the constitutional right of an attorney to give, and a client to receive, advice of counsel.

The case involved the simultaneous resignation of ten nurses from positions at a Smithtown, Long Island nursing home, Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, over pay and other working conditions, including being required to work as clerks for about $12 per hour and being housed in a … Read the rest

Court of Appeals Broadens Construction Worker Safety Statute to Apply Where Worker Neither Fell Nor Was Struck By Falling Object

There is a line of cases requiring that a construction worker either fall or be struck by a falling object in order for there to be considered a gravity-related risk so as to invoke the absolute liability provisions of Labor Law 240(1) (New Yorks Scaffold Law). No more. In Runner v. New York Stock Exchange, Inc., — N.E.2d —-, 2009 WL 4840213 (decided December 17, 2009), the worker did not fall. Nor was he struck by a falling object. Instead,the worker was injured because a makeshift counterweight system proved insufficient to control the force gravity exerted upon an 800-pound reel … Read the rest

Thanksgiving Week Not a Week for Two Laborers to Give Thanks to the Court of Appeals – Part 2

In Affri v. Basch, — N.E.2d —-, 2009 WL 4030863 (November 24, 2009), the plaintiff was a neighbor of the defendant homeowner for whom he had previously provided handyman work. This time the plaintiff was performing renovation work including installing appliances. Plaintiff fell from a ladder while installing a vent on the roof and suffered injuries that required several surgeries.

The defendants moved for summary judgment contending that the situation fell under the one or two-family dwelling exception of Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6). These sections except from its provisions owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but … Read the rest