With more accidents taking place at New York City area construction sites, construction accident lawyer Joseph A. Ginarte today urged authorities to step up inspections in an effort to prevent more injuries and deaths.
"Officials have been decreasing inspections. At the same time, we have seen an increase in accidents at construction sites, with more injuries and deaths," said Ginarte, founder of Ginarte O'Dwyer Gonzalez Gallardo & Winograd, a New York and New Jersey law firm that focuses on workplace accidents. "We're calling on authorities to increase inspections, including hiring more inspectors, and intensify enforcement of safety rules to reverse the spike in accidents and injuries and deaths."
Ginarte was referring to a recent article in the New York Daily News. The newspaper reported that city records show the number of jobsite accidents in New York City increased 31 percent from 119 to 157 from fiscal year 2011 to 2012, with the number of injuries increasing 46 percent from 128 to 187 during the same time period.
The newspaper also reported that construction fatalities in the metro New York area, including northern New Jersey and Long Island, jumped from 28 to 40 between 2010 and 2011, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This comes at the same time New York City slashed construction site inspections by 40 percent, resulting in 6,600 fewer violation citations, according to the article.
"These statistics show the importance of city inspections and enforcement of construction safety regulations. When inspections go down, the number of accidents, and therefore the number of injuries, increases," Ginarte said. "Construction is an important part of the city's economy and an important source of jobs for many. The city has a responsibility to protect workers as well as the communities surrounding these jobsites."
Accidents include worker falls or workers hit by falling equipment, materials or tools, as well as the collapse of walls, scaffolding or even entire buildings.
In the New York Daily News article, a city spokesman attributed the increase in accidents to a rise in worker falls at construction sites and incidents of falling construction materials. He also said the city has reached out to the construction industry to encourage workers and employers to take proper safety precautions.
"Construction firms certainly need to redouble their efforts to ensure workers' safety, and city inspections and proper enforcement of safety regulations are one of the keys to making sure the construction industry does what it is supposed to," Ginarte said. "City enforcement and vigilance by employers go hand in hand to prevent accidents at construction sites."
The New York City Department of Buildings website says it is "committed to promoting safe and compliant construction and improving quality of life for all New Yorkers." Since 2008, the department has enacted more than 25 new laws designed to increase safety at construction sites.
"But without adequate inspections to enforce those regulations, those laws don't mean much," Ginarte said. "Enforcement saves lives and increases productivity. An injured worker or damaged jobsite does not help the city, the worker, the construction company or the community."
Ginarte said that while city inspections and enforcement are important, construction companies, project managers, site owners, developers and other parties involved in the construction process bear ultimate responsibility for worker safety.
He encouraged anyone who has been injured at a construction site to seek legal counsel from an experienced construction accident lawyer such as those at Ginarte O'Dwyer Gonzalez Gallardo & Winograd.
"Our firm has experience representing construction workers who have suffered from all kinds of construction site injuries," he said. "We work with medical experts and know how to get victims the compensation they are entitled to under the law."
About Ginarte O'Dwyer Gonzalez Gallardo & Winograd, LLP
For more than 30 years, the law firm of Ginarte O'Dwyer Gonzalez Gallardo & Winograd, LLP, has represented injured workers in all kinds of New York and New Jersey construction site injuries, including cases arising from on-the-job accidents, industrial injuries and wrongful death claims for dependents. The firm's team of 25 lawyers and 100 staff members can assist clients with workers' compensation, Social Security disability and third-party personal injury claims. The Ginarte law firm features offices in New York City, Newark, Elizabeth, Clifton, Union City and Perth Amboy. The firm's New York office is located at 225 Broadway, 13 Floor, New York, NY 10007 (local phone (212) 601-9700). The firm can assist Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking clients. To learn more, call 1-888-GINARTE or use the firm's online contact form.