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Ignored Safety Rules Put Hurricane Sandy Cleanup Workers at Risk

NY workers’ compensation attorney puts onus on employers

After Hurricane Sandy, thousands of workers assisted with the cleanup efforts in the storm-affected areas around New York City, New Jersey and Long Island. Many worked in “a nightmare of dangerous conditions,” reported the New York Daily News. A number of workers suffered serious injuries and even died.

The tabloid’s investigation revealed a wide variety of serious safety issues, including workers without protection falling from roofs, getting shocked by exposed wires, falling from faulty ladders, and being injured by chemicals and/or polluted water. They even found contractors who “blew off rules even after being caught and warned.”

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records, the inspectors responsible for monitoring the health of employees in the hurricane-affected neighborhoods around NYC, NJ and LI encountered 3,100 instances of unsafe job conditions. Around 7,900 workers were subsequently removed from hazards.

Hurricane Sandy was blamed for 135 deaths. The two fatalities OSHA tied to dangerous work conditions during the cleanup efforts would raise that total to 137.

Responsibility for job-related injuries and fatalities

Employers must be diligent in ensuring workers have the proper equipment to protect their health. They must also ensure that each cleanup worker has the proper training.

Time constraints are no excuse to cut safety corners on any worksite.

Workers injured while cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy may be able to receive workers’ compensation due to any workplace injuries sustained. Workers’ compensation provides for the cost of past and future medical expenses that are directly related to the workplace injury; partial replacement of lost wages; and vocational rehabilitation expenses to help the worker relearn the skills needed to return to his/her original work or work in another field.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. No matter what caused the injury, workers injured on the job receive benefits under New York law. This means it doesn’t matter whether the accident was caused by the employer’s negligence, the worker’s negligence, or a combination of the two.

For some injuries, a worker may sue a third party, but this action can be taken only under certain circumstances – for example, if injuries were the result of defective or faulty equipment.

Employees injured on New York work sites and workers’ comp claims

Individuals who sustain an on-the-job injury may be able to recover workers’ compensation for a variety of accident injuries, including amputation, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, or others. The worker does not need to prove that the employer was negligent in order to receive workers’ compensation. A workers’ compensation lawyer in NY can help explain the requirements imposed by the workers’ compensation program.

The Perecman Firm has successfully represented many individuals in New York workers’ compensation claims. Workers who were injured while doing cleanup work on Hurricane Sandy-affected sites may contact The Perecman Firm to discuss the potential for workers’ compensation benefit.


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