A 30-year-old construction worker is still recovering in the hospital after a large metal door fell on him and caused serious injuries which will keep him from returning to work for some time. His co-worker was also injured.
A Preventable Fall
At the time of the accident, the two men were working on an exposed I-beam on a first-floor construction site. Suddenly, a metal door from above fell, striking them from above. When the door hit the workers, it caused them to lose their balance and fall from the beam over 10 feet into the basement of the building.
The 30-year-old was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries to his legs and the 25-year-old was also taken for treatment after reporting he was hurt.
An investigation into the accident revealed that neither of the workers had been given fall-protection equipment. When the NY Department of Buildings(DOB) looked further into the matter, they issued a partial stop work order for not providing workers with a fall protection system and for not having approved construction plans on the job site.
What Is A Stop Work Order?
The DOB has the authority to issue stop work orders if they visit a work site and determine that safety standards have not been met and employees are at risk. It doesn’t matter if the inspection of the site is planned or if the department makes a surprise visit – an order can still be issued.
There are two types of stop work orders:
Full Stop Work Order
When this order is issued, the employer is no longer allowed to do any work until the safety issues have been corrected. The only employees that are allowed on the site are those that are making corrections to hazardous areas.
Partial Stop Work Order
A partial stop work order only removes employees from one section of the job site. All other sections may have employees continuing their work as needed.
What Do Employers Have To Do To Return To Work?
In order to have the order lifted, an employer must:
- correct all hazardous situations
- pay all fines that have been issued
- request a re-inspection
- contact the unit that initially gave the stop work order and have the order removed.
Since the beginning of 2016, the state of New York has seen an increase in the number of orders issued, because several serious accidents in 2015 brought attention to the dangers New Yorkers face at work every day. In addition to holding employers accountable for their decisions, Governor Cuomo has pushed for stricter safety standards.
Can I Sue My Employer For Violating Safety Standards?
Workers’ compensation prevents an employee from pursuing legal action against their employer. However, this does not mean that a third-party construction lawsuit can’t be filed.
In construction lawsuits, a third-party complaint is frequently filed against another contractor who was working on the site and failed to maintain safety standards or the manufacturer of a product that was defective.
Issues with tools and the products used on a construction cause a shocking number of injuries every year. Nail guns, saws, soldering tools, drills, cranes, bulldozers, and other heavy machinery can easily maim or kill a user if a defect causes it to work in a way that is unexpected by the worker.
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Workplace Is Unsafe?
If you believe that you and your coworkers are placed in a dangerous situation while at work, contact OSHA or the NY Department Of Buildings. They will send an inspector to determine if your employer has properly maintained safety standards.
Don’t worry about retaliation – OSHA created the Whistleblowers Act which means that an employer cannot fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee if they discover that a report that has been made.