Construction sites can be dangerous environments, and the safety of workers should always be a top priority. Unfortunately, accidents do occur, sometimes resulting in fatalities.
When such tragedies happen, questions arise regarding accountability and legal consequences for those responsible. Recently, there’s been more attention paid to this issue, raising the question of whether contractors and others should be held personally responsible when their deliberate or reckless actions cost workers their lives.
The Brooklyn incident that’s making waves in construction circles
It’s been almost five years since a 47-year-old immigrant laborer was killed in a building collapse after the on-site contractor ignored warnings of imminent danger, failed to follow the design plans approved by the Department of Buildings (DOB) and ignored safety regulations. That contractor has now been convicted on a host of charges, including criminally negligent homicide.
While such prosecutions are rare, many think they shouldn’t be
Employers and contractors have a legal and ethical responsibility to prioritize safety by implementing robust safety protocols, providing appropriate training, ensuring compliance with regulations and conducting regular inspections to mitigate potential hazards.
Many contractors don’t or won’t do their part – and raising the stakes over such failures may be the only way to get their attention. Indeed, prosecutors are increasingly aiming to hold individual bad actors criminally accountable for their reckless or purposeful behavior – and the new “Carlos’ Law” that was recently signed into being will also make the civil penalties financially painful for negligent companies. Gone are the days when a construction worker’s life could be measured by a mere $10,000 fine.
Worker safety is a shared responsibility that involves contractors, supervisors, employees and regulatory agencies. By fostering a culture of safety and holding those responsible for their misconduct accountable, the construction industry can work towards reducing accidents, injuries and fatalities.
In addition to criminal consequences, contractors and companies involved in fatal accidents may face civil lawsuits from a victim’s family members who are seeking compensation. These lawsuits serve to provide financial support and hold responsible parties liable for the loss of workers’ lives and the emotional and financial burdens endured by affected families.