New York City’s workplaces became more hazardous in 2010, according to recently-released preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of workplace fatalities rose to 68 in 2010, up from 63 in 2009. Included in that number are 13 fatal fall from heights injuries, a nearly three-fold increase from the five that occurred in 2009.
The largest number of fatalities occurred in the trade, transportation and utilities sector. Those workers saw 21 deaths in 2010. The deaths also disparately affected the Hispanic community, which accounted for approximately 25 percent of workplace fatality victims.
Accidents aren’t the only way New York City workers are getting hurt. Workplace assault and violent attacks are also on the rise. New York workers were subject to more workplace violence in 2010 than at any point in the last five years.
A spokesman for the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health attributed the decrease in workplace safety to the fact that staffing cutbacks leave workers to do more with less. Further, with still-troubling levels of unemployment, workers are often afraid to exercise their employee workplace rights and raise concerns about safety hazards out of fear they may lose their jobs.
Employers Have a Duty to Provide a Safe Workplace
As difficult as the recession may be, it does not excuse employers from their duty to provide a safe workplace.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 imposes certain duties on employers, including, but not limited to:
- The duty to provide a workplace free of safety hazards and to comply with OSHA standards, rules and regulations
- The duty to inspect workplace conditions to ensure compliance with OSHA standards
- The duty to provide employees with safe tools and equipment
- The duty to warn employees of potential hazards
- The duty not to discriminate or retaliate against employees who exercise their right to a safe workplace
Workers have the right to speak up about safety hazards without the fear of losing their jobs. If workers are apprehensive about talking to their supervisors directly, they can contact OSHA and file a complaint. OSHA will keep reporting workers’ information confidential.
If you are injured on the job, you will likely need legal help to recover the full amount of workers’ compensation benefits you are owed. Contact an experienced New York workers’ compensation attorney who can help protect your rights.