As NYC’s Construction Industry Booms, Workers’ Lives are Being Put on the Line

On April 28, Workers’ Memorial Day, a group of activists gathered at a West Side building site known for its poor safety conditions to issue a stark warning.

Antonio Sanchez of the Worker’s Justice Project proclaimed, “Every day immigrant construction workers like myself put our lives at risk. Many have gotten injured because irresponsible contractors provide us defective…machinery, weak scaffolding, broken ladders or simply no safety protection.”

The following day, a carpenter came unhooked from his safety gear at another Manhattan construction site and fell 15 feet. He was immediately hospitalized. The Department of Buildings issued a perfunctory citation for “failure to safeguard all persons and property.”

The construction industry has been deemed the most dangerous, according to a report on work-related fatalities in New York by NYCOSH. Unfortunately, the dangers of the construction industry reflect the poor business practices of the employers.

Many construction-related deaths since 2010 have been linked to violations of federal safety standards. Today, the industry is increasingly fueled by “self-employed” independent workers, or temporary jobbers, as opposed to regular employees, and they generally lack essential labor protections and are unsupported by unions. Typically, a firm that uses a so-called “independent contractor” can escape direct liability if the worker gets hurt or killed, and can avoid paying for overtime, insurance and other benefits. In many blue-collar sectors, the systematic misclassification of workers as independent contractors has both destabilized workers economically, and made their workplaces less safe.

If you have been injured on the job, contact the experienced attorneys at Fine, Olin & Anderman today.

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