Two large-scale construction projects are slated to begin on Long Island soon. A groundbreaking for the $1 billion, 56-acre Garvies Point Waterfront Redevelopment occurred in 2016 and while sales of begun for some units, the residences will be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2019. Additionally, a brand-new 18,000 seat arena, which will be the new home to the NHL’s New York Islanders, has been approved and is scheduled to begin construction this year.
These projects will create hundreds of jobs for workers in all areas of construction and will be a boon to the local economy. However, large construction projects such as these are often built on constrained timelines and tend to always be over-budget and behind schedule. Even though these constraints, stressors, and limitations are not the fault of the worker, it is most often the worker who is put in a difficult position due to them.
The Belmont Park project is scheduled to begin this year and be completed in 2020. When timelines are short and deadlines loom, workers often feel pressured to work longer hours and forgo safety in the interest of getting the job finished. When you combine fatigue with the push to finish a job, the risk of an injury increases greatly. “Workers may feel compelled to take a shortcut or put themselves and others at risk because they think their job may be on the line,” said Neal A. Goldstein, a wrongful termination attorney with the firm of Goldstein & Bashner in New York. “It is important for workers to know that complying with safety standards that take a little longer is important. Otherwise, they may cause accidents that can injure other individuals on the construction site,” said Goldstein. “Safety is paramount, he continued, and when you cut corners, you risk not only your safety but the safety of others. Whenever someone suffers an injury due to unsafe construction practices, they may be able to hold the responsible party liable for their losses.”
If a worker suffers an injury on the job, the question then becomes how will the worker make money if they are injured? “This is a question that never enters a worker’s mind at the time they start a job, but incredibly nebulous and subject to disagreement,” said Robert Bashner, a workplace injury and workers’ compensation attorney, also with Goldstein &Bashner. In the case of Garvies Point, the property under development was previously home to a salvage yard, a metal-processing plant, and oil tanks, among other uses. Elevated levels of harmful chemical compounds have been discovered, and though the source is disputed, injuries from exposure could arise. “These types of issues add a layer of complication to any workers’ compensation claim,” said Bashner. However, he said, any injury resulting from the workplace may be subject to coverage by workers’ compensation.
Though each of these scenarios is speculative, they serve to reinforce the fact that projects as large as these present many dangerous situations for workers. Construction of large buildings creates fall risks. Working with heavy machinery creates the risk that someone could lose a limb. Each of these projects carries its own risks and rewards, but just because there are risks does not mean that workers should be concerned about their protection and rights.