Excavation and Demolition Work At Westchester Construction Sites Explained
What Actually Is Excavation And Demolition Work?
Excavation is any type of digging or basically removing of grounds. Demolition is taking down any type of structure, which includes to interior demolition where construction workers are removing walls within a structure; as well as demolishing the entire structure itself or knocking down the whole structure. Excavation can also refer to digging a foundation of a new property such as a large building where you have to excavate down a certain number of feet for the foundation to be poured. With the redevelopment of White Plains and Yonkers, there is currently a lot of excavation and demolition going on in Westchester County.
Excavation is usually the preparation activity for a larger construction project. Excavation can also apply to anything including digging holes for the laying of pipes, preparation for concrete footing, digging deeper foundations or digging holes for the laying of electrical wire. Most commonly, excavation occurs in projects where the property owner is constructing a larger structure, installing or upgrading new plumbing or gas fixtures, doing an oil to gas conversation or in the cases of Westchester subdivisions, digging new cellars. Other common cases seen a lot of times are excavation even when there are new developments especially in Westchester and Rockland County. These areas have large scale community developments or subdivisions, there is a lot of planting that goes on, and so you see a lot of excavation even just for planting new trees in the development to give it a certain look and feel. That is because they are ancillary or related to the construction project; they are all covered under the same labor laws of any other construction worker.
Our White Plains construction accident and wrongful death lawyers know that this type of construction work, involves using big machines and can easily result in serious personal injuries and even wrongful death when corners are cut. Often construction workers are working under time pressured conditions with excavation machinery including anything from bobcat, to a large excavating machine, such as a backhoe, bulldozer or excavator, which is really moving tons and tons of dirt. Whenever excavation machines are being operated, there are very specific regulations concerning how they are used. Often, these excavators or excavation machinery are used for carrying of materials around different parts of the job sites. It is not uncommon to see the bucket or claw of excavation machines being used to haul materials and then being brought from place to place on a construction site. Quite often on busy sites, workers are either run over by the tracks of the machine, struck by the bucket, or even by a load which is hung from the claw and not properly secured. There have even been unfortunate cases of fatalities where machines fall because they are working on unsecure ground which caves in.
Different types of excavation machinery are involved in these construction projects not only just for digging, but also for moving materials from one place to another. Labor Law 241, has several regulations which provide for safety of machines when they are not in use, protection of those working around excavation equipment, proper securing of loads when they are being lifted by excavation equipment, guarding the power driven machinery and excavation operations.
The New York Industrial Code has specific regulations which require protection of construction workers who works on and around excavation machinery, including regulations requiring that construction workers who are around power driven machinery. These regulations include requirements that the moving parts of the machinery be guarded so that laborers working around the machinery do not get snagged by the machine’s moving parts. These regulations also require that any existing electrical underground wires and plumbing pipes (especially those carrying gas) be marked so that if someone is digging, they do not hit an electrical or gas lines. This is a known hazard with an excavation work, therefore the lines have to be marked, usually with spray paint, so that excavation workers can avoid striking a buried gas line or electrical wire, which can cause serious personal injuries and even death.
Also to protect the construction laborers who work around excavation machinery, there are requirements that only the excavation crew be within a certain range of the bucket’s swing. Many unsafe practices such as riding on the excavator’s bucket are prohibited. Regulations also prohibit laborers from working in any areas where they could be struck or endangered by the excavation equipment or even where they could be hurt by material falling or dislodged from the equipment. Another unsafe practice which is prohibited is leaving the motor running or engaged when the excavation operator is not in control of the machine. As even a slight accidental touch of the controls can make a bucket or boom swing forcefully, the motor much be disengaged or the safety engaged, whenever the operator leaves the controls or the machine, including standing up to get a better look at the excavation.
Our Westchester construction work place accident lawyers know that demolition involves the same hazards as excavation and additional dangers as well, because often the same heavy machinery is being used. New York’s Labor Law 241 has numerous regulations on how demolition work must be done, so that the construction workers are protected. One example is that whenever a swinging weight attached to a line of either a crane or a bucket, is used, walls or other parts of the building cannot be left unsupported or unguarded where they are going to fall or collapse. All areas surrounding the demolition must be guarded against weakening by pressure or vibration, meaning surrounding the area. Also, wherever there is swing weights used in demolition, there has to be a zone of demolition of one-and-a-half times the height of the building. This regulation is intended to protect construction workers and passerby from falling debris and objects. Also, the swing of the weight itself has to be restrained so that it cannot swing past the radius and or strike another building. When clamshell buckets are used in demolition, there has to be a twenty-five foot zone on each area with the travel of the bucket so that workers and pedestrians cannot accidentally be hurt or hit by the swing. Another regulation requires that only the people who are involved in the actual demolition can be within the demolition zone when the demolition operations are underway, to prevent injury to people and laborers who should not be on site. This regulation protects workers who are not essential in performing the demolition, by requiring them to stay away from the demolition area.
Our Westchester demolition accident attorneys know that a lot of personal injuries on construction sites are caused by falling debris. Unfortunately, especially on smaller jobs, demolition debris, such as roofing, shingles and even lumber is just thrown to the ground. Labor Law 241 regulations require that chutes and buckets be used to safely dispose of this debris and the construction general contractor and landowner are responsible when the safety practices are not followed. Also Labor Law 240 applies when the debris could have been hoisted but was just thrown and hits a construction worker.
If you need information regarding Excavation and Demolition Work at Construction Sites, call the Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph, PLLC for a FREE Initial Consultation at (914) 574-8330 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.