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Accidents Involving Excavation Equipment

Our New York construction accident lawyers have handled numerous cases involving excavation and other heavy equipment. Often workers on construction, demolition and excavation projects are required to work in close proximity to excavation and heavy equipment. Our New York City and Westchester construction accident lawyers have successfully handled numerous personal injury cases involving accidents with excavation equipment. The type of accidents which involve heavy equipment involve numerous factual scenarios including workers who are struck by excavation equipment, excavation equipment hoisting materials or other equipment and the items being hoisted fall or swing and strike a construction worker, sometimes equipment runs over the construction worker or their feet or strikes them and sometimes workers are even injured while riding on the equipment. Other accidents occur when the machines fall over or when the operator is careless and forgets to engage the safety.

New York’s Labor Laws provide remedies for victims of construction accidents in New York. When construction workers are hurt on a job site in New York, including New York City and the surrounding areas, New York Labor Laws 240 and 241 often apply and allow the injured construction worker to sue the landowner and general contractor. If a construction worker is killed, then the estate, usually the next of kin can bring a lawsuit for wrongful death based on violations of these statutes as well.

Most falling object cases are covered under Labor Law 240, which requires that all things being hoisted have adequate, hoists, stays, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection. This rule applies when equipment and material is being hoisted and falls and injures someone. It also applies when materials such as forms, blocks and other structures are in the process of being secured or assembled and they drop. The key requirement under Labor Law 240 is the gravity element, which means something must fall downward because of a lack of a certain safety device or the inadequacy of the device.

New York’s Labor Law 241 covers a lot of scenarios involving accidents which machinery. For a Labor Law 241 violation, there must be a violation of an Industrial Rule. The Industrial Rules are extensive and cover many types of accidents which regularly occur on job sites. A few examples are as follows.

Tipping or unsteady power shovels cause many construction accidents, where operators and workers working around the machines are injured by cave ins or shifting of the grounds and machine. To address this concern, 23-9. 4c requires that when working with power shovels firm, level and stable footing must be provided for each machine. This regulation also requires that when firm footing is not present, it must be provided by substantial timbers, cribbing or other structural members in sufficient numbers and of sufficient size to distribute the load so as not to exceed the safe bearing capacity of the underlying material.

To avoid injuries where items which are being hoisted fall or move suddenly 23-9. 4(d) requires that hoisting mechanisms have brakes and locking devices which are capable of sustaining at rest one and one-half times the maximum rated load. Also hand or foot operated brakes or equivalent devices must be provided with substantial locking mechanisms to lock such brakes or equivalent devices while they are engaged. This regulation also requires that all loads handled by such equipment shall be suspended from the bucket or bucket arm by means of wire rope having a safety factor of four and the wire rope must be connected by either a closed shackle or a safety hook capable of holding at least four times the intended load. To avoid any injuries which occur when a machine lifts a load at an angle, which causes the load to swing, 23-9. 4(h) requires that any load lifted by such equipment shall be raised in a vertical plane to minimize swing during hoisting. The rule also prohibits carrying or swinging suspended loads over areas where people are working or passing.

To protect workers who are not knowledgeable about excavation equipment from being struck, 23-9. 4(h) also prohibits unauthorized people from being in the cab or immediately adjacent to any heavy equipment while it is in operation. Likewise, 23-9.5c prohibits operation of excavation equipment by anyone other than designated persons. This regulation also requires that only the operating crew is permitted on an excavating machine while it is in motion or operation and that only the pitman and excavating crew are be permitted to stand within range of the back of a power shovel or within range of the swing of the dipper bucket while the shovel is in operation. The regulation also requires that when an excavating machine is not in use, the blade or dipper bucket shall rest on the ground or grade and that the operator of an excavating machine shall not leave the controls of such machine at any time when the master clutch is engaged and the engine is operating. This rule is often violated when operators get up to get a better look in a hole without engaging the safety of the machine. The regulation also requires that oiling and greasing shall be performed only while an excavating machine is at rest and the master clutch disengaged. The regulation also prohibits the boom or the bucket, dipper or clamshell of a power shovel from passing over the seat or cab of a truck or other vehicle while any person is in such seat or cab.

Our New York construction accident lawyers have handled countless construction accidents and often engage excavation experts who teach at the union schools to assist in the preparation of these cases. Our New York excavation accident lawyers have represented injured construction workers and families who suffered a wrongful death of a loved one from all over New York State including Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester, Nassau (Long Island) and Rockland. We have successfully represented thousands of personal injury victims in accidents arising in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, White Plains, New Rochelle, Bronxville, Mamaroneck, Ossining, Valhalla, Port Chester, Yonkers, Hartsdale, Valhalla, Mount Vernon, Scarsdale, Rye, Tarrytown, Greenburgh and Elmsford.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph