Construction worker deaths are on the rise. Last year, 22 New York City construction workers died while on the job. Three passed away in January alone. A new law signed last year by Governor Kathy Hochul provides some incentives for employers to take safety more seriously. But the recently enacted legislation aka Carlos’ Law, might not be enough.
Carlos’ Law is named after 22-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant Carlos Moncayo, who was buried alive in a 13-foot trench while on the job. New York City Council Member Francisco Moya drafted the legislation in 2016. According to Moya, “[t]he skyline of New York should be built on the sweat – not the blood – of its workers.”
The law sets a $300,000 base fine for construction contractors guilty of lethal negligence. While fines can go up to $500,000, there is no minimum amount. This creates a problem. Without a minimum, contractors might determine that it’s cheaper to pay the fines than invest in safer job sites.
There’s a lack of safety training:
Construction contractors continue to take advantage of vulnerable groups. The formerly incarcerated and migrant workers are particularly at risk. As of 2021, 53% of NYC’s construction workers were immigrants.
Many New York construction workers do not have the proper safety training. NICE, New Immigrant Community Empowerment, has seen its waitlist for state-required construction safety training doubled from 300 to 600. Workers clearly want the training, but their employers are not providing it. As a result, many untrained workers continue to work on job sites.
The New York City government has taken note of the issue. The Department of Buildings (DOB) are conducting safety sweeps of all 40,000 NYC construction zones by the end of spring 2023. Fines will be handed out for violations, but whether this will improve worker safety is unclear. Many contractors continue to ignore workplace safety issues.
Non-union contractors pose perhaps the biggest threat to worker safety, as without a union to protect them, non-union workers are often forced to take on dangerous tasks at unsafe construction sites. In 2022, 17 of the 22 construction deaths occurred at non-union sites.
Non-union companies are especially unlikely to change their ways. One such company, Joy Construction, has racked up 34 OSHA violations and thousands of dollars in fines since 2000. Seven incidents involved worker falls, one of which resulted in a death. Just last month, construction worker Linden Samuel was killed on a Joy Construction site. He was crushed to death by an excavator bucket. After a separate accident months before his death, Samuel had expressed concern that his coworkers were mostly untrained. Joy Construction continues to operate in NYC.
What is the future for construction safety?:
Will Carlos’ Law lead construction companies to address the rising death toll? Or will those companies elect to pay the fines rather than improve safety standards and training?
For workers and their families, civil litigation remains the best tool to fight against unsafe working conditions. Unlike the maximum fine of $500,000 under Carlos’ Law, civil courts can impose multi-million-dollar verdicts against construction companies in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Experienced and trusted construction accident attorney Michael S. Lamonsoff knows what it’s like to work for negligent companies because he fights against them every day in court. His legal experience in the construction industry makes him a particularly tough adversary for these negligent employers, contractors, and owners, and a particularly powerful representative for injured workers and their families.
He’s known as “The Bull” by both Power 105.1 and his clients for his relentless effort to fight for the compensation injured construction workers deserve.
If you or someone you know has been injured or passed away due to events on a negligent worksite, call Michael “The Bull” Lamonsoff today at 212.962.1020. Or click or tap here to send him a message: www.msllegal.com/contact/
This article published by The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff in partnership with Power 105.1 is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter. By viewing this article, the reader understands there is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the publishers. The article should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.