Explosion hazards lurk at construction sites, from flammable chemicals to pressurized containers to faulty wiring. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show that an average of 24construction workers die in explosions each year.
Those who survive a construction site explosion often suffer severe burns and may also sustain traumatic brain injury, hearing and vision loss, bone fractures, amputation and other serious injuries.
Whether your employer did anything wrong to cause the jobsite explosion shouldn’t affect your workers’ compensation claim. That’s because New York has a no-fault system.
In addition to medical care, rehabilitation and disability benefits provided by workers’ comp, you may also be eligible for additional money through a third-party lawsuit against a non-employer that was partly responsible for the accident. This maybe a negligent property owner, contractor, subcontractor, product manufacturer or someone else.
Types and Causes of Construction Site Explosions
The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR) analyzed years of BLS occupational fatality data and determined that the following explosion incidents are the most common in construction:
- Chemical explosions caused by open solvents or fuels, fuel tanks, and chemical tanks or drums.
- Pressurized container explosions of vehicle tires, pipes or pipelines, and water tanks.
- Arc flashes and blasts caused by switchboards, circuit breakers, transformers, and other electrical wiring and parts.
For chemical explosions, the top causes were welding, electrical sparks, heavy equipment striking underground pipelines, and cutting or drilling. Pressurized container explosions were most frequently caused by over-pressurization, cutting, drilling or welding. For arc flash or blast incidents, the leading causes were electrical malfunctions or shorts, contact with overhead powerlines, and contact with other energized wires.
It’s worth noting that the “other” category of explosion causes, across all explosion incident types, is well-represented, suggesting many other circumstances may cause construction site explosions.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Under New York Labor Laws
Many NYC construction workers are aware of New York Labor Laws, which provide construction workers with special protections, including the ability to sue negligent third parties for construction site accidents.
One Labor Law that may apply to your case is Section 241(6). This section makes possible lawsuits against property owners, contractors, subcontractors and others, provided that an injured worker can prove a violation of the Industrial Code.
There are a number of Industrial Code provisions that may apply to a construction site explosion, including:
- Section 23-1.13 (Electrical hazards) – This section lists the ways electrical hazards should be safely handled, including investigation and warning about electrical hazards and the protection of employees.
- Section 23-1.14 (Temporary combustion devices) – Devices and receptacles that burn charcoal, coal, liquefied gas and other combustible materials must be properly ventilated and insulated, placed on a supportive base and set up within 40 feet of an approved fire extinguisher.
- Section 23-1.25 (Welding and flame cutting operations) – The compressed gas cylinders that power welding and flame cutting tools must be safety stored away from combustible material and provided with a pressure regulator or automatic pressure-reducing device.
- Section 23-11 (Use of explosives) – Only competent individuals may handle explosives and perform the duties of a blaster. Black powder and other types of explosives are also prohibited.
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced NYC Construction Accident Lawyer
After you’ve sought immediate care for your worksite explosion injuries, it’s in your best interest to discuss what happened with an attorney. Remember that filing a lawsuit in no way detracts from your ability to collect workers’ comp benefits. Even if you’re already collecting employment-based benefits, a personal injury action may help you get additional relief for your losses.
- The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights – Fire and Explosion Deaths in Construction
- New York State Department of Labor – Protection in Construction, Demolition, and Excavation Operations