Last Updated on January 3, 2024

Common Causes and Legal Rights About Workplace Injuries in New York

Workplace injuries in New York, while lower than the national average, remain a significant issue, affecting employee health and business productivity. In 2021, the state reported 125,500 nonfatal injuries at a rate of 2.2 per 100 workers.

If you or a loved one was injured or involved in a workplace injury in New York, contact our personal injury attorneys at 833-PORTER9 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Common Causes of Workplace Injuries in NYC

If an injury does occur, the appropriate legal steps should be followed to protect the injured party's rights. 

1. Slip and Fall Injuries

Slip/trip and fall accidents are among the most common workplace injuries. Causes often include spills on floors, uneven walkways, or cluttered work areas.

These incidents can lead to a range of injuries, from sprained ankles and wrist injuries to more serious head injuries. Employers are responsible for ensuring that workspaces are free from these hazards. 

2. Overexertion and Muscle Strains

Overexertion and bodily reaction represent a significant portion of workplace injuries, accounting for 22% of all nonfatal injury or illness events that result in days away from work. This injury was previously the leading cause of nonfatal cases before being overtaken by exposure to harmful substances or environments. 

In 2020, 7 workers died and 255,490 were injured due to overexertion and bodily reactions. These injuries often involve excessive physical effort such as lifting, pulling, pushing, holding, carrying, and throwing. They also include injuries resulting from repetitive motions like typing or using tools, as well as injuries from free bodily motion such as bending, crawling, and reaching.

3. Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are a significant cause of workplace injuries, particularly for those whose jobs keep them on the road. The New York City Department of Transportation provides up-to-date safety tips for drivers in the city.

Workers Most at Risk

  • Delivery drivers and couriers, who spend much of their workday crossing congested streets, are particularly vulnerable to vehicle accidents.
  • Employees who operate company vehicles or are required to travel as part of their job may also find themselves at risk.

4. Equipment and Machinery Injuries

Injuries from equipment and machinery can be severe. Training and strict safety protocols are crucial to prevent accidents like garbage compactor injuries or falling tools. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has comprehensive training materials and safety standards that employers must follow.

5. Toxic Substance Exposure

Exposure to toxic substances is a serious concern in certain workplaces, and understanding the risks and employer responsibilities is must.

Employer Responsibilities

  • Employers are responsible for providing proper protective equipment and training to handle hazardous substances.
  • They must also ensure that all safety regulations and guidelines are followed to minimize the risk of exposure.

6. Burns from Explosions and Fire

Burn injuries in the workplace are often the result of high-risk incidents that can have devastating consequences. Injuries can range from minor to life-threatening chemical or electrical burns. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides extensive resources on preventing workplace fires and explosions, which can be accessed for more comprehensive safety guidelines.

Potential Causes

  • Mishandling of chemical compounds can lead to explosive reactions.
  • Overheating machinery may ignite, especially if not properly maintained.
  • Even something as commonplace as improper microwave use in office break rooms can result in fire-related injuries.

7. Workplace Violence

Workplace violence, which can stem from personal grudges or dissatisfaction, poses a serious threat to both physical and psychological well-being. In response to this, New York State has taken proactive steps by enacting legislation that mandates public employers to actively develop and implement workplace violence prevention programs

These programs are designed to identify risks, educate employees, and establish procedures to handle and report incidents. The New York Department of Labor outlines that typical high-risk scenarios include monetary transactions, delivery services, and working in volatile environments.

8. Unsafe Working Conditions

Unsafe working conditions, such as exposure to toxic fumes, inadequate lighting, wet floors, or malfunctioning equipment, can significantly increase the risk of workplace injuries. It is the employer's responsibility to address these hazards promptly. 

Under the OSH Act, workers in New York City have the right to a safe workplace, free from recognized dangers. Employers must comply with OSHA standards, and workers may request an OSHA inspection if they believe their rights are being compromised.

Legal Rights and Workers Protections in New York

Workers are not left to fend for themselves following a workplace injury. A legal framework provides them with rights and protections designed to ensure their safety and well-being. 

OSHA Safety Rights for All Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides an outline of rights to protect workers in New York and across the United States. Here are some key points:

  • Right to a Safe Workplace: Employers must keep workplaces free of known health and safety hazards.
  • Training: Workers have the right to receive safety and health training in a language they understand.
  • Equipment: Workers can work on safe machines and receive necessary safety equipment.
  • Chemical Protection: Workers must be protected from toxic chemicals.
  • Inspection and Reporting: Workers can request an OSHA inspection and report injuries or illnesses.
  • Access to Records: Workers can review records of work-related injuries and illnesses and see results of workplace hazard tests.
  • Anti-Retaliation: It is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for using their legal rights.

If workers believe their working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful, they can file a confidential complaint with OSHA. Moreover, if they face retaliation for exercising their rights, they can file a whistleblower complaint. OSHA also provides a toll-free number and email for workers to discuss health and safety issues confidentially.

The Role of Workers' Compensation

Workers' compensation in New York is an insurance program that provides cash benefits and medical care for workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. Funded by employers, this program does not require employee contributions and is managed by the state's Workers' Compensation Board. 

In the no-fault system, the amount a claimant receives is not affected by their own carelessness or their employer's fault, although benefits may be forfeited if the injury is due to intoxication or intentional self-harm. In New York, this system is designed to:

  1. Cover medical expenses related to the injury.
  2. Compensate for lost wages if the injury prevents the worker from returning to work immediately.

Filing a claim should be straightforward, but if a claim is denied, workers have the right to appeal the decision. If there's a dispute, the Board intervenes to resolve it, and a judge may be called to decide on the benefits. 

Workers may be eligible for disability benefits if their case is contested. If an injury results in reduced earnings, workers may receive a benefit to make up a significant portion of the difference.

What To Do If You Have Been Injured At Work

Understanding workplace injuries in New York is crucial for ensuring safety and awareness on the job. Should you suffer a workplace injury, having legal representation can significantly influence the outcome. The Porter Law Group is dedicated to guiding you through these challenges with no upfront fees, working on a contingency basis to secure the compensation you deserve.

For support and to ensure your rights are protected, contact us at 833-PORTER9 or via email at We offer free consultations and are committed to advocating on your behalf.

Written By
Eric C. Nordby
Personal Injury Attorney
Eric, with nearly three decades of experience in personal injury litigation, holds a law degree with honors from the University at Buffalo School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree from Cornell University. His extensive career encompasses diverse state and federal cases, resulting in substantial client recoveries, and he actively engages in legal associations while frequently lecturing on legal topics.
Legally Reviewed on December 10, 2023
Michael S. Porter
Personal Injury Attorney
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike built a distinguished legal career after graduating from Harvard University and earning his juris doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. He served as a Captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, gaining expertise in trial work, and is now a respected trial attorney known for securing multiple million-dollar results for his clients while actively participating in legal organizations across Upstate NY.
This Article Was Professionally Reviewed
This page was Legally Reviewed by Michael S. Porter on December 10, 2023. Our experts verify everything you read to make sure it's up to date. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have any questions about our content please contact us.
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