Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A new analysis by Construction Dive asks whether the construction industry has fought the spread of Covid-19 as well as conventional wisdom would suggest.

As the article notes, a potpourri of academic research, public health data, and media reports indicate that the industry has not fared so well. There have been concerning outbreaks across the country, with construction workplaces having the third highest number of outbreaks in Washington and Michigan, and the second highest number of clusters in Nashville, Tennessee. Meanwhile academic research indicates that Texas construction workers are five times likelier to be hospitalized as a result of Covid-19 than workers in other sectors, and a CDC study found that construction sites had the second highest number of cases in Utah.

While construction sites have generally been deemed essential workplaces, experts believe that their mitigation efforts—health screenings, PPE, social distancing—may not be enough to protect workers and communities from the spread of Covid-19. As an official at the Centers for Disease Control told Construction Dive, ““Outbreaks in construction sites may be very common… Capturing data on workplace outbreaks has been challenging for a lot of health departments, so national level data is not available.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released a list of its most common Covid-19 citations in construction and other industries, in order “to help employers understand which OSHA standards have been cited most frequently during COVID-19 related inspections.” The document was based on data OSHA maintains regarding its citations and inspections, which it states it initiated after complaints, referrals, or fatalities in various industries, including: “hospitals and healthcare, nursing homes and long term care settings, and meat/poultry processing facilities.”

According to OSHA’s data, the most common citations dealt with respiratory protection. Workplaces were cited for failing to provide a medical evaluation before a worker used or was fit-tested for a respirator; omitting information in workers’ medical evaluations; failing to perform appropriate fit tests; failing to ensure fit tests whenever a different respirator face piece was use; and failing to administer a fit test using a standard protocol.

Continue reading

A deadly crash in Queens has sparked heated discussions about bicycle safety in New York City. As Gothamist reports, a 35-year-old delivery worker driving a motorized scooter, Alfredo Cabrera Liconia, “was killed by the driver of a Bud Light truck” last Thursday. Video of the incident shows Liconia’s Scooter “trapped under the wheels of the semi-truck, which appears to be making a right turn onto Crescent Street.” The collision occurred while the driver “appeared” to be turning right from Astoria Boulevard to Crescent Street, where trucks are not permitted unless they’re making deliveries. Gothamist reports that it was not clear whether Liconia was using the bike lane when struck.

One image of the truck reportedly captured it “crushing the flexible posts” separating the lane from vehicle lanes. These “flexi-posts” have been criticized by cycling accidents as too insubstantial to prevent vehicles from passing into protected bicycle lanes. A group of local lawmakers reportedly asked the city’s department of Transportation to replace the flexi-posts with “concrete jersey barriers” as a way of protecting cyclists from cars. Continue reading

Research conducted by State Farm Insurance indicates that the autumn months are when motorists are most at risk of crashes involving deer. Deer-vehicle accidents reach their peak in October, per a recent article by New York Upstate, though the risk persists until the end of January. As the article notes, the risk is so high in those months because they constitute both the mating season for deer, as well as a period of heightened activity as deer forage in advance of the winter months.

A 2018 analysis by State Farm estimates that the risk of hitting deer or other large mammals “doubles in the fall.” The risk of hitting deer is highest at the dawn and dusk hours, raising the need for drivers to be vigilant. State Farm advises drivers take a number of precautions, including: driving slowly, especially at dawn and dusk; wearing seatbelts; anticipating additional deer to follow any deer they see; using high beams, unless oncoming traffic are approaching; and avoiding distractions, such as phones or food. In the event that a driver encounters a deer, State Farm advises braking if possible, but not swerving, which “can result in a more severe crash.”

Continue reading

A new law in the State of New York requires all car passengers, even those riding in the backseat, to wear a seatbelt. Before the law went into effect on November 1st, passengers over 16 years of age were not required to wear a seatbelt when they were sitting in the rear seat. With the new legislation, New York becomes the 31st state in the nation to require backseat passengers to buckle up. While the law exempts bus passengers as well as people riding in emergency vehicles like ambulances, it does not exempt passengers in taxis and other ride share vehicles.

New York’s Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has estimated that 30% of highway fatalities in the state involve passengers who aren’t wearing seatbelts. When Governor Cuomo signed the new legislation in August, State Senator David Carlucci said: “The injuries you can sustain from not wearing a seat belt can be deadly, and that’s a fact whether you sit in the front or the back of a vehicle. With this bill signed into law, we will help prevent tragedies and save lives in New York. Thank you to the advocates, including AAA for their strong support of this legislation.” Continue reading

A new study published online in JAMA Network Open finds that construction workers may be at high risk of Covid-19 infection. Conducted by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and the Santa Fe Institute, the study asked whether construction work is associated with increased community transmission of Covid-19 as well as disproportionate fatalities in US construction workers. It examined hospitalization data in central Texas, finding that “construction workers had a nearly 5-fold increased risk of hospitalization in central Texas compared with other occupational categories.” Its authors conclude that this does not mean construction work must be halted, but that workplaces should take seriously the necessary safety measures and paid sick leave policies to protect vulnerable essential workers.

As the study notes in its introduction, early in the pandemic policymakers across the US differed in their views on the essentiality of construction work: “Boston, New York, and San Francisco severely restricted allowable projects. Other cities and states deemed commercial and home construction essential. Most of the nation’s 7.3 million construction workers remained employed throughout April and May of 2020, representing 4.5% of the labor workforce, ranging from 1.8% in the District of Columbia to 10.5% in Wyoming.” The authors note that because construction workers operate in close physical proximity to each other, construction sites have a higher than average risk of Covid-19 transmission. And because “Latinx populations are overly represented among construction and essential industries,” they have higher rates of exposure too, which are “compounded by prevalent high-risk comorbidities and lack of access to health care.” According to the authors, the combination of these risks is probably partly responsible for the higher rates of COVID-19 infection and fatality in Latinx communities.

Continue reading

Even as overall traffic levels fell over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of crashes and fatalities at work zones has risen, according to a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Workers patching potholes, striping roads, directing traffic or building highways are more at risk than ever,” it states, “as drivers zoom through work zones or are preoccupied chatting or texting on their phones.”

These trend in spite of a steep reduction in vehicle miles traveled: 40% in April 2020 (compared to April 2019) and 26% in May, per federal data. The report goes on to state that work zone crews continue to deal with reckless motorists even as traffic volume resumes. It cites a series of instances in Michigan, in which “vehicles struck three county employees in a state contractor” over the course of a single week, killing two of those victims. Pew stresses that motorists and passengers also suffer the consequences of reckless driving, noting that of the 672 fatal work zone crashes with 755 deaths in 2018, only 124 of those deaths were among the work zone crews. Of the 123,000 work zone crashes in 2018, it said, 45,000 people suffered injuries.

Continue reading

How can construction sites maximize safety during the Covid-19 pandemic? A new column in the Philadelphia Business Journal offers lessons and best-practices from Philadelphia-area job ites.

According to the column, that city’s chapter of the General Building Contractors Association started putting together safety protocols early in the pandemic, and took input from other industry stakeholders like the Building Trades Safety Committee, Med-Tex Services, and the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. The coalition met via weekly digital conferences to identify key safety issues and how to deal with them. Said one member of the group, “In a matter of weeks, the group put together a program that every building trades member and contractor in the region, or anywhere in the country, could use.”

Continue reading

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data show that 81% of construction worker injuries that result in emergency room visits involve a ladder, according to a recent report by Construction Dive. As falls are a leading cause of construction site injuries in the United States, experts are interested in studying how to make them safer. That’s why the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has given a grant of $1.8 million to Kurt Bescorner, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, “to develop safer ladder designs and explore individual risk factors for ladder falls.”

Bescorner’s research “will focus on measuring friction as the pathway for the ladder and individual to influence slip and fall risk,” according to a press release by the university. He said in a statement that “A slip happens when there is insufficient friction between the shoe surface and ladder rung, but little is known about how ladder design or an individual’s body affects slip and fall risk.”

Continue reading

Last month New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill placing restrictions on the medical malpractice immunity he granted New York hospitals and nursing home facilities at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by Newsday.

The bill, signed in August, gave hospitals and nursing homes immunity in malpractice claims involving Covid-19, whereas a March executive order and April law granted them immunity from “all but the most egregious cases over gross negligence or criminal acts.”

According to Newsday, the new immunity legislation followed lobbying by the Trial Lawyers Association, a group representing plaintiffs’ attorneys who represent alleged victims of medical malpractice. The TLA argued that the broader immunity legislation gave hospitals too much protection while failing to help less powerful victims of malpractice. Per a July Newsday report, “The defense lawyers’ group said Cuomo had silenced the voice of ‘the most vulnerable New Yorkers — Latinx workers, Black moms-to-be and the elderly — who are victims of medical mistakes, negligence and substandard care.’” In response, the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents hospitals, said “the bill would harm health care facilities in the event of a resurgence of COVID-19, which could impact treatment of non-COVID cases.”

Continue reading

Contact Information