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Construction Worker Killed in Trench Wall Collapse

Construction Worker

A construction worker at a Staten Island construction site in New York City died in June when the wall of a trench collapsed, causing severe head trauma and burying the worker under the collapsed wall. The Department of Buildings has issued a stop-work order for the site, and the contractor is expected to be cited for code violations such as working without a permit and neglecting to shore up the trench.

Many provisions of New York Labor Law require that construction workers have a safe place to work. Labor Law section 200 places a general duty on employers to protect the health and safety of their employees. Sections 240 and 241 both cover the construction industry, with 240 addressing building construction, demolition and repair, and 241 covering construction, excavation and demolition work. Specifically, Labor Law section 241(6) places a duty on contractors, owners and their agents to see to it that all areas are adequately shored to prevent injury from a collapsing wall, as happened here.

For every statutory requirement on contractors and property owners, there is an accompanying rule or regulation that specifically addresses the particular situation. For instance, New York Code, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) Title 12, Section 23-4.2 covers trench and area type excavations, specifically requiring sheeting and shoring sides or banks of any trench or excavation five feet or more in depth with slopes steeper than those permitted by law, which are outlined in a table depending upon type of soil and depth of excavation.

Handling a personal injury or wrongful death claim in the construction industry requires more than just a familiarity with the common law of negligence; one must fully understand the applicability of New York Labor Law and accompanying rules and regulations; otherwise, a person’s case may be tragically yet summarily dismissed on a motion from the defendant’s insurance company lawyers. If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York City construction accident, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for assistance obtaining workers’ compensation, disability benefits, and a financial recovery from the contractor, owner, or agent responsible for workplace safety at the site.