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What Is Carlos’ Law and How Can It Help Protect Construction Workers?

Employers have a duty of care to provide and maintain a safe work environment for their employees. Following the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulations, businesses are required to follow safety protocols that protect the lives of our nation’s workers. However, across the country, construction accidents and other workplace fatalities don’t always lead to the conviction of negligent organizations. As documented by the 2019 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, fatalities within the private construction industry increased 5%, marking the highest number of deaths (1,061) since 2007.

U.S. Construction Accidents Disproportionately Impact the Hispanic Community

A construction worker holding a piece of wood

A 2013 report by the Center for Popular Democracy cited that 75% of victims in fatal construction accidents in the U.S. were American-born citizens of Hispanic heritage or immigrants from Latin America. The passage of this law would mark legislative support and protection to vulnerable workers in the construction industry working on dangerous job sites, and whistleblower statutes can help further protect undocumented workers who may feel pressure to not come forward.

How Carlos’ Law Can Protect Construction Workers

In April 2015, 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo was buried alive on a construction site while in an unreinforced trench that was 14-feet deep. Following his death, Harco Construction was convicted of manslaughter and negligent homicide charges. Carlos’ Law, written the year of Moncayo’s death, includes legislation that would increase the maximum fine for felony convictions of negligent organizations whose criminal conduct led to death or serious injury from $10,000 to $500,000. Also, the proposed increase for misdemeanors would change from $5,000 to $300,000. As of March 2021, this bill has not been signed into law, but it has been on and off New York State’s congressional agenda since 2017.

Holding at-fault construction companies accountable for criminally negligent homicides through these harsher penalties is intended to help protect the lives of construction workers who are subjected to dangerous conditions in New York. Too often, corporations or employers that fail to follow or ignore safety protocols dismiss workplace deaths as a cost of doing business because the average conviction typically only includes a fine of $1,000.

Bring Your New York Negligence Claim to Leav & Steinberg

Construction worker fatalities are avoidable when employers follow the law and comply with OSHA’s safety guidelines. If you were seriously hurt on the job at a construction site, contact the attorneys at Leav & Steinberg LLP. We proudly represent residents of New York City and the surrounding areas and have helped numerous clients recover compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering. Schedule a free consultation with our legal team today to discuss your case.