No place in America has more construction going on than we do in New York City. In fact, the ongoing heavy activity in the industry is cited by experts as one of the main reasons for the surge in recent years in construction accidents.
As one of the government agencies tasked with monitoring work-site safety, OSHA issues fines to construction companies and others that violate safety regulations and law. A recent report on OSHA's fines issued in the second quarter of this year showed that when large penalties are assessed, even larger safety issues are present.
One of the largest fines handed out by OSHA was to a New York company. The Long Island contractor has been hit with a $224,620 fine for three willful and serious violations, OSHA said. The agency's investigation showed that when a Northridge Construction Corp. employee fell from a ladder onto a concrete floor when the shed he was working on collapsed. He sustained fatal head injuries.
The company was cited for failing to provide head protection gear to employees; not providing a fall arrest system; not ensuring that its workers used ladders as intended; and more.
Clearly, while the firm's fine is substantial, it is minuscule when compared to the loss of the worker's life and the pain and grief of his family.
The largest fine issued by OSHA in the quarter was assessed against a Maine roofing and home improvement company: $1,792,726. More notable than the fine is that the company has also been criminally charged for its role in a worker's death on one of its worksites.
It reminds us of the New York City construction company that was charged several years ago after a fatal trench collapse. Many will recall that a manslaughter conviction was secured in that case.
There are many ways of holding negligent construction employers accountable for a reckless disregard for worker safety. Fines and criminal charges can certainly be effective, as can construction accident litigation waged by a New York attorney who knows how to obtain full measures of justice and compensation.