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Blocked Doorways: A Closer Look at Liability Issues

December 10, 2015 Construction Accidents,Workers' Compensation

Some of the things you see on a construction site or in some other workplace settings may seem like small details — until something terrible happens. One example of this is the set of fire rules and regulations that affect businesses and worksites, and basically cover anywhere there is human habitation or work activity.

Fire safety is a basic thing, but it’s something that’s often overlooked. There are a lot of reasons for that and just about any kind of survey that includes visiting average businesses or worksites reveals how often those in charge seem either oblivious or willfully ignorant of whether fire safety precautions are in place and whether safety is a priority for those managing the workplace.

Take, for instance, the example of fire exits. We hear about this issue when there is a fire somewhere and lives are lost or injuries occur because someone did not follow fire safety procedures.

The National Safety Council estimates that over 360 workers lost their lives in workplace fires in 1988, and of course, many of us have heard of tragic historic fires like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City in 1911. But we don’t always consider how the same types of risks can still present themselves today just because commonsense work fire safety precautions weren’t followed.

On the average worksite, you might see work materials or equipment leaning up against the door. This door might have been designated as a fire exit, or it might be a vital means of entrance or exit from the building. But because there is no comprehensive plan and no one is looking at fire safety details for the business site, that door is temporarily locked or blocked. Unfortunately, people might not notice that detail — unless and until there’s a fire.

According some of the US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s documentation:

  • Each building must have at least two means of escape remote from each other to be used in a fire emergency.
  • Fire doors must not be blocked or locked to prevent emergency use when employees are within the buildings.
  • Exit routes from buildings must be clear and free of obstructions and properly marked with signs designating exits from the building.

Many smart managers understand these responsibilities and the liability that can result with poor fire safety management. That said, they take care to designate the doors, mark them with signs and keep them free and open, just like in the above guidelines. But other companies allow these unsafe conditions to go on until there’s an accident.

Get Help From a New York Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

If you or someone in your family was injured in a New York work injury, don’t hesitate to call the professional personal injury attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff. We’ll be by your side every step of the way through a work injury case, helping to make sure your voice is heard in a New York court of law.