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What to Know About Recent New York Construction Safety Legislation

What to Know About Recent New York Construction Safety Legislation


Construction in and around New York City is common, and the state of New York has one of the highest numbers of workers employed in the construction industry compared with other states throughout the country. Indeed, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State ranked fourth in the country for the number of construction workers employed in the industry, according to the Office of the New York State Comptroller. Metropolitan areas throughout New York State, including New York City, have a particularly high number of workers employed in the construction industry, with these workers accounting “for slightly more than 95% of all New York State’s construction jobs.” In addition to employing thousands of construction workers, New York also has a particularly high rate of serious and deadly construction accidents and injuries.


According to an article in The New York Times, the New York State Legislature has passed legislation known as Carlos’s Law that soon could be signed by Governor Kathy Hochul. What does the law say about construction safety, and how could it prevent accidents and injuries?


Carlos’s Law and the Background of the Legislation


The recently passed legislation, known as Carlos’s Law, is named after a 22-year-old construction worker named Carlos Moncayo who was killed on a construction site in Manhattan in 2015. The construction site where Moncayo suffered fatal injuries after being “crushed to death by thousands of pounds of dirt” had a history of safety violations. After Moncayo’s death, the Manhattan district attorney’s office brought criminal charges. According to The New York Times, the “general contractor, Harco Construction, was found guilty of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.” Since the general contractor was a corporation, its penalties were capped at $10,000. For many, the penalty was entirely disproportionate to the harm the construction company had caused.


According to the lead prosecutor in the case, the trench where Moncayo was killed “was basically a ticking time bomb.” To be sure, in the Moncayo case, a police supervisor “immediately recognized that the pit that Mr. Moncayo was working in was not reinforced, as it should have been.” In the case against Harco Construction, the prosecution argued that “supervisors had ordered Mr. Moncayo, who was undocumented and did not belong to a union, to go into the pit despite the danger, because the project was behind schedule.”


How Carlos’s Law Could Prevent Future Deadly Construction Accidents


If Governor Hochul signs Carlos’s Law, it will increase the penalty for criminal liability in a deadly construction accident like the one that killed Moncayo to a minimum of $500,000. If a construction company is penalized for a misdemeanor, the minimum penalty would be $300,000. The significant increase from the current penalty of $10,000, lawmakers believe, would deter construction companies from requiring workers to engage in dangerous behaviors on construction sites.


Recognizing that they could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, construction companies could work to ensure better safety protocols on construction sites. Accordingly, Carlos’s Law could help to prevent avoidable construction deaths caused by unsafe or hazardous conditions or known safety violations.


Contact a Construction Accident Lawyer in New York


If you were injured while working on a construction site, you could be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim and, potentially, to file a negligence lawsuit against your employer under New York Labor Law. An experienced New York construction accident lawyer at our firm can help. Contact Leitner Varughese, PLLC today.



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