Construction Industry: Safety First or Else

Construction Company Blames Deceased Operator

Does the law need tightening up with regard to construction site safety? Recent events suggest that it does. Controversy continues over the case of a crane collapse in New York City, which left two workers dead. Incidents of this kind have increased recently, and the reluctance of construction companies to acknowledge responsibility is a growing concern for many people.


Faulty Equipment

The Washington Post reports on the accident in May 2008 on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Joseph Lomma, the owner of the crane, denies responsibility for the collapse that killed Donald Leo, the operator, and Ramadan Kurtaj, a sewer worker who was working across the street.

According to NPR, prosecutors in the case assert that the 200-foot-tall crane snapped due to a shoddy weld of a vital component. Prosecutors claim that crane owner, Lomma, procured a cheap repair on the crane in order to save money. Lomma’s legal team has insisted that Lomma was in no way responsible for the snapping of the crane and that the snap was a symptom, rather than the cause, of the disaster. The team contends the crane had been stretched to an unsafe angle, and the accident was due to operator error.


Faulty Methods and Materials

Two cases of a similar nature occurred recently in Ohio. In January, USA Today reported on a floor collapse at the Cincinnati construction site of the Horseshow Casino, owned by casino developer Rock Gaming LLC. There were no fatalities, but more than 20 people were injured. Interestingly, a Cleveland site currently in development by Rock Gaming suffered an accident in December when a parking garage collapsed.

Another incident, reported by, occurred in Syracuse, NY. Workman Steven Pallotta was killed when the entire ceiling collapsed onto him as he was repairing one small part of it.

Ineffective Regulation

That some builders or employers in the construction sector are willing to cut corners on repairs is worrisome. Incidents like these show there may be a serious need for greater legal regulation of the construction industry. Employer irresponsibility is costing lives, and the risk of serious maiming and/or life-threatening injury due to accidents should not be underestimated.

Executives may bleat about the overreaching regulator trying to squeeze their profits, but the safety of workers transcends profits. Poor practices in the construction industry can threaten the safety of construction workers and members of the general public who happen to be nearby. The issue is not just of concern to the construction industry, but to all of us.

If regulation of construction companies does not come from the government, it can be brought about in another manner. Construction workers who are injured or the family of those killed may hold employers accountable for unsafe practices by filing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. These are effective not only for obtaining compensation for injured or dead employees, but also for assessing a punitive fee on employers who have risked their workers’ health. If enough lawsuits are filed, employers across the industry may begin to pay closer attention to the safety of their worksites.

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If you or someone you love has been affected by a construction-related accident, contact our experienced attorneys by filling out the form or calling (757) 244-7000. We will work with you to get you the compensation you deserve. The time to file a claim is limited, so contact us now.

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