Employment Law

Undocumented Construction Workers Have the Right to a Safe Work Environment

March 6, 2024
Undocumented Construction Workers Have the Right to a Safe Work Environment

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Immigrants make up the majority of the construction workforce across the nation. Sadly, some employers try to wrongfully take advantage of their employees due to their legal status. As a result, undocumented immigrants often work in dangerous conditions and are more likely to experience injuries while working.

Fortunately, employers can be held liable for any injuries their employees suffer as a result of their failure to provide a safe working environment. This is true regardless of the employee’s immigration status or union membership.

The New York work personal injury lawyers at Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm have more than 40 years of experience representing undocumented construction workers who have been wrongfully injured.

If you or a loved one has been hurt due to unsafe working conditions, contact us today for a free, strictly confidential consultation and let our family help yours.

Undocumented Construction Workers Are Vulnerable to Unsafe Working Conditions

Undocumented Construction Workers Are Vulnerable to Unsafe Working Conditions

Many immigrants travel to the U.S. hoping to find better economic, living, and educational opportunities for themselves and their families. Immigrants make up nearly one-third of the population in New York and play an important role in our community.

What’s more, immigrants represent over half of the construction workforce in New York City, which is over twice the national average.

Notably, the majority of immigrant construction workers are undocumented. Unfortunately, some employers may seek to take advantage of an employee’s legal status to justify placing that person in an unsafe work environment.

According to the Center for Migration Studies, undocumented workers in the construction industry are especially vulnerable to exploitation and dangerous working conditions due to lack of employment authorization, limited English proficiency, insufficient training opportunities, and racial discrimination.

As a result of these obstacles, undocumented immigrants are more likely to experience serious injuries while working.

These injuries may be caused by:

  • Failure to provide proper safety gear;
  • Exposure to dangerous chemicals without proper protection and ventilation;
  • Unsafe working environments;
  • Exposure to flames or hazardous electricity;
  • Loose debris;
  • Falls due to improper safeguarding.

New York Labor Law §200, §240(1), §241(6) Protects Undocumented Workers in Construction Site Accidents

New York has some of the strongest construction labor laws in the country to ensure that employees are kept safe while working. Specifically, New York State Labor Law Sections §200, §240(1), and §241(6) allow workers to hold their employers strictly liable in cases involving construction site accidents.

These laws establish the grounds on which a construction site employer may be held liable for an injury resulting from an accident:

  • Labor Law §200: An employer can be held liable if an employee is injured due to employer negligence.
  • Labor Law §240(1): An employer can be held liable if an employee suffers an injury due to a violation of rules regarding elevated work surfaces (also known as the “scaffolding law”).
  • Labor Law §241(6): An employer can be held liable if an employee suffers an injury due to a violation of a specific rule established in New York Industrial Code 23.

Generally speaking, this means employers engaged in building, construction, or demolition work must provide the following:

  • Reasonable and adequate safety measures to prevent injury;
  • Safeguards for dangerous machinery;
  • Safe flooring on and around the construction site;
  • Functional elevators and shafts that are properly secured;
  • Secure scaffolding and adherence to rules regarding its use.

Employers who fail to make these provisions may be held liable for the injuries their workers experience.

Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm Has a History of Representing Undocumented Construction Workers

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries due to the risk of serious or fatal injuries. In the last few years, New York City has seen an increase in construction activity across the five boroughs, meaning more people are being employed in the construction workforce.

Although there have been significant strides in construction safety measures to protect employees, a significant number of construction site-related injuries still occur.

The skilled attorneys at Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm have over four decades of experience representing clients injured in on-the-job accidents, including two noteworthy cases where undocumented immigrants were unnecessarily put at risk.

Accidental Amputation

In one case, a young mother from Ecuador’s hand was amputated while cleaning an industrial meat blender.

Our client was directed to remove the guards over the meat blender’s discharge doors to clean a part of the machine. While spraying the machine with a pressurized hose, the hose was caught in the blender and pulled her hand into the steel blades. As a result, her hand was instantly severed from her arm.

Preventable Burns

In another case, three young recent immigrants to New York sustained permanent injuries during a workplace fire in the Bronx.

While working in an enclosed tank, our clients were instructed to use highly flammable waterproofing materials without verifying that the tank had proper ventilation. As a result, the materials caught fire, causing severe permanent and debilitating physical injuries, including second and third-degree burns.

Injured on the Job? You Should Not Be Put at Risk, No Matter Your Status

Get a free consultation with our dedicated team. We fight for the rights of undocumented construction workers in New York. Don't wait — your future could be at stake.

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Get the Justice You Deserve with Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm

Everyone is entitled to a safe working environment, and it’s New York’s reasonability to ensure that undocumented workers aren’t taken advantage of or wrongfully put at risk due to their legal status.

If you or a loved one has experienced a serious injury while working on a construction site, contact Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm today for a free consultation.

Our experienced New York personal injury attorneys will investigate your case and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive justice. We’ll address any questions and concerns you may have and do everything we can to make you feel comfortable throughout the process.

When the unimaginable happens, we’re here to help. Contact our team today to arrange your no-cost consultation.

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