The federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining the Tappan Zee Constructors more than $12,000 for last July’s crane collapse. In particular OSHA found that the contractors failed to keep a safe work site, and exposed employees to the risk of injury caused by the falling crane. The incident occurred when a crane, which was driving piles for the new Tappan Zee Bridge’s Westchester-bound bridge collapsed across all lanes of the current bridge. While cranes collapses in Manhattan have become somewhat of an epidemic. there are only a few Westchester maritime construction accidents, who are familiar with the interplay of maritime law and New York construction law. The findings of the inspectors were that the vibratory hammers, which the construction crews were using to extract and pre-position a partially driven pile came loose unexpectedly and that the capacity of the crane was lower than required. Obviously, had inspections been diligently carried out during the work, this accident would not have happened and the fast pace, which the workers on the Tappan Zee Bridge are being required to work at no doubt was a contributing cause of the crane collapse.
While thankfully, there were no fatalities or major injuries in this accident, all commuters and construction workers on this site need to remember that if an injury occurs on this work site, a notice of claim needs to be filed within 90 days, and also a Notice of Intent to make claim should be filed with the Attorney General’s office, as the Court of Claims is designated as the proper venue for the site owner, but not for the contractors. Indeed any claim involving an accident on the bridge is a complex network of litigation. From our White Plains law office, our construction accident lawyers are a short drive from the Tappan Zee project.
Also, most of the work place accidents on the bridge, involve a mix of Federal and State Law. For example, most workers are likely covered under the Federal Longshore Habor Workers Compensation Act, and not the New York State system, but can sue for violations of New York’s Labor Laws for personal injuries or fatalities sustained. Likewise, those who work on supply ships that deliver materials are Jones Act seaman and have Federal remedies such as claims for unseaworthiness, claims for negligence under the Jones Act and maintenance and cure. These federal remedies allow for living expenses, medical care, lost wages and compensatory damages for pain and suffering, as well as future damages for lost earning potential. For an analysis of the various laws that apply to a given work injury, an injured worker should consult with an experienced maritime construction accident, since the remedies that a given worker is entitled to, depends on their employee status, the type of work they were performing, their exposure to the water and time spent aboard vessels. While maritime accidents are not frequent in Westchester, with this bridge project, they are becoming more frequent and our lawyers experience in handling maritime accidents in New York City is proving to be valuable.