“This bill seeks to protect workers from corporations and their agents that fail to comply with safety protocols by amending the penal code to create new offenses and substantially increasing the fines that can be imposed upon a corporate defendant convicted of certain crimes.” The bill has not yet been signed by Governor Hochul.
“Carlos’ Law is named for 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo, an Ecuadorean immigrant . . . who was buried alive at a construction site in New York City’s meatpacking district in April 2015 while working in an unreinforced 13-feet-deep trench that had been cited by safety inspectors.” “On the morning of April 6, 2015, according to the New York Times, an inspector visited the site, noticed a trench without proper earth-retaining equipment, and issued a warning. Mere hours later, the walls of the trench collapsed on Moncayo, who was pronounced dead on the scene.”
The contractor “was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide, and reckless endangerment. . . . But despite these criminal convictions, the Moncayo family, who faced the tragic loss of a son and brother, reportedly did not receive any compensation.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the contractor approximately $10,000 (the maximum fine possible) for this negligence.”
The proposed bill would raise the maximum fine for criminal liability from $10,000 to no less than $500,000, or, in the case of a misdemeanor, no less than $300,000. The proposed bill explains that:
Workplace deaths and serious injuries continue to be commonplace in the construction industry. Of the more than 400,000 workplace fatalities since Congress, enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), fewer than 80 have been prosecuted, and only about a dozen employers have been convicted. That is roughly 1-conviction for every 33,000 fatalities. In the few cases that have resulted in conviction, the penalty was only $1,000 on average. Under the OSH Act, the criminal penalty is considered as a Class B misdemeanor, and carries, at most, up to 6 months imprisonment. The weakness of OSH’s punitive measures has therefore failed to encourage safer work environments.
“This bill increases punitive measures so that corporations and their agents who ignore or fail to follow safety protocols and procedures and put workers at risk are less likely to write off serious workplace injuries as a minimal cost of doing business, and more likely to give workplace safety the serious attention it requires.”
It is hopeful that this proposed bill will encourage contractors to maintain a safe construction site. The information in this article is subject to change depending on whether the proposed bill is signed by the Governor. We will keep our readers informed with respect to any new developments.
The material in this article is meant only to provide general information and is not a substitute nor is it legal advice to you. In the event you need legal assistance, contact Christopher E. Vatter at firstname.lastname@example.org.