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Improper Training of Construction Workers and Its Consequences

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Construction is one of the most dangerous industries for workers. According to the National Safety Council, it generally ranks fourth (after agriculture, transportation, and mining), depending upon the data point being measured. In 2020, the death rate among workers in the construction industry was 10.2 per 100,000, while the rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses was 108.6 per 10,000. Compare those figures to those of the financial services industry, which stand at 0.9 and 32.4, respectively. Construction accidents occur for many reasons, but one of the most serious is improper training of construction workers, and improper worker training is often the fault of employers. If you have been injured in a construction accident that you believe was due to improper training, a Long Island work injury lawyer may be able to help you recover. 

Training Requirements for New York City Construction Workers

The construction industry in New York City is the largest among U.S. metropolitan areas, employing over 350,000 workers. With so many people employed in the industry and so much construction activity occurring all the time, the city imposes strict training requirements on construction workers. The training requirements for New York City construction workers are found in Local Law 196, which requires that workers at certain job sites receive at least 40 hours of safety training and supervisors at certain job sites receive 62 hours of safety training. It applies to a broad range of workers, including construction workers, demolition workers, concrete safety managers, and construction superintendents. 

Workers have various options for the courses they can take to receive a Site Safety Training (SST) card, but they generally are as follows: 

  • A 10-hour OSHA class covering: 
    • Intro to OSHA
    • Fall protection
    • Electrocution hazards
    • Struck-by hazards
    • Caught-in hazards
    • Personal protective equipment
    • Health hazards
    • Material Handling
    • Tools — hand and power
  • An 8-hour fall protection class
  • An 8-hour site safety manager refresher class
  • A 4-hour scaffold safety class 
  • A 2-hour drug and alcohol awareness class
  • 4 hours of general SST electives covering: 
    • Electrocution prevention
    • Fire protection and prevention
    • Stairways and ladders
    • Tools — hand and power
  • 4 hours of special SST electives covering: 
    • Welding and cutting
    • Excavations
    • Scaffolds
    • Concrete and masonry

Applicants for construction or demolition permits must certify to the Department of Buildings (DOB) that workers who will be working under the permit have the requisite training. If the DOB discovers that workers at a construction site are untrained, it may issue a violation with penalties of up to $5,000 per untrained worker to the owner of the site, the permit holder, and the employer of the untrained worker. Permit holders must also maintain a log that demonstrates that all workers at a site are trained. Failure to do so can result in a penalty of $2,500. 

The Consequences of Improper Training of Construction Workers

The consequences of failing to properly train construction workers go well beyond civil penalties levied by the DOB. In many cases, they can result in defective workmanship at best and injuries to workers and the public at worst. If you have been injured in a construction accident for any reason, please consider contacting a Long Island work injury lawyer.   

Defective Workmanship

Construction trends are cyclical. When the economy is up, employers tend to be desperate to hire as many contractors as they can and may lower their hiring standards to do so. These workers in many cases are improperly trained, have a poor work record, may be unable to do the work properly, or have substance abuse problems. When the economy is down, employers tend to shed all but the best workers, including those who never should have been hired in the first place. Hiring improperly trained workers during economic boom times can result in defective workmanship, such as drafty windows, cracks in walls and ceilings, and roof leaks. 

Worker Injuries 

Construction sites — especially on high-rise buildings, which are common in New York City — are bustling and dangerous places with many moving parts. It is, therefore essential that all workers on a construction site be properly trained to avoid injuries. When training is nonexistent or improper, the chances of accidents and injuries increase dramatically, as improperly trained workers are much more likely to make mistakes than those with proper training. Such accidents can include: 

Accidents like these that are the result of improper worker training can result in severe injuries and death. 

Public Safety Hazards 

Construction workers are not the only ones put at risk by improper training. Construction accidents and shoddy workmanship can also cause injuries to members of the public. For example, an improperly constructed scaffold could collapse on a busy sidewalk, potentially injuring or killing dozens of passersby. Or, to give another example, an improperly installed ceiling tile could fall on an office worker and cause a head injury. 

Holding the Construction Industry Accountable for Improper Training of Workers 

Employers are legally required to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their workers; when they fail to do so, they may expose themselves to legal liability.  

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Construction workers who are injured due to improper training may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Such benefits are available where the injured party has suffered a work-related accident, such as a construction worker being struck by a dropped tool from above. However, the workers’ compensation system is the exclusive remedy for these types of accidents and prevents injured workers from suing their employers directly in most cases. 

Third-Party Claims

While most injured workers cannot sue their employers, they may be able to recover through a third-party claim against anyone who caused their injury who was not their employer. These types of claims are particularly common in the construction industry, as many construction-related injuries are caused by contractors and subcontractors. Keep in mind, however, that injured workers who pursue both workers’ compensation claims and third-party claims may have their damages awards reduced to compensate their employer for any workers’ compensation benefits paid up to the date of the third-party recovery. 

Get Help from a Long Island Work Injury Lawyer

If you have suffered an injury due to improper construction worker training, your best bet for recovery would be to speak to an experienced attorney who handles such matters. To get started, please contact a Long Island work injury lawyer at Turley, Redmond & Rosasco by using our online form or by calling us at 877-693-2529 (New York City), 516-745-5666 (Garden City), 631-582-3700 (Ronkonkoma), or 631-399-0400 (Shirley/Riverhead).

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