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New York City Construction Death Toll Continues to Rise

August 19, 2021 in

In March, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) released its annual construction fatality report. The report found that construction fatalities in New York City increased for the third year in a row. Below, the experienced New York City Personal Injury attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas + Cannavo P.C. further explain the report. 

Overview of NYCOSH Construction Fatality Report

In March, NYCOSH released its annual construction fatality report, “Deadly Skyline: An Annual Report on Construction Fatalities in New York State”. The report compiled data from the 2019 calendar year, as the data from 2020 was not accurate due to the large pause in construction during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The report stated that construction deaths in New York City increased for the third year in a row. In addition, the report found that construction deaths in New York City account for a much higher percentage of overall worker deaths than the rest of the country. Construction deaths in New York City accounted for 26% of all worker deaths, compared to 19% nationwide. 

Other Key Findings in NYCOSH Construction Fatality Report

NYCOSH’s report provided insight into the trends of construction safety over the past decade. 24 construction workers died in 2019, compared to 22 in 2018. From 2010-2019, there were 215 construction worker fatalities total. The lowest number of fatalities in that period was in 2011, when there were 14 construction fatalities. 2014 saw the highest amount, with 28 fatalities. 

Total construction deaths in New York State decreased for the third year in a row in 2019. Despite this decrease, the percentage of construction deaths among all worker deaths was still slightly higher for the state of New York than the nationwide average. 

Hispanic workers had the highest death toll. An estimated 10% of New York State’s workers are Hispanic, but they account for 20.5% of worker fatalities. 

The report also provided insight into the impact of unions on workers’ safety. NYCOSH analyzed 32 construction fatality investigations in 2019. According to the report, 78% of the New York State workers who died on private worksites were non-union. Additionally, in the 19 OSHA-investigated sites in New York City, 68% of the construction workers who died were non-union.

OSHA violations also made a considerable impact on the number of fatalities at a worksite. All OSHA-inspected sites that experienced construction fatality cases in New York State during 2019 were found to have OSHA violations once an investigation occurred. However, an OSHA violation does not prevent contractors from receiving government subsidies. 

Recommended Measures to Minimize Construction Worker Deaths

In addition to analyzing the data on workers’ deaths, NYCOSH provided the following recommendations and measures to be put into place to help decrease the number of construction worker deaths:

  • Require construction training and certification for New York State’s construction workers, 
  • Preserve New York’s Scaffold Safety Law,
  • Pass Carlos’ Law to increase penalties against criminal contractors, 
  • Expand Criminal prosecutions of negligent contractors statewide, 
  • Use existing city power to suspend or revoke licenses and construction permits for criminal contractors, 
  • Double OSHA’s budget to allow for more proactive inspections before tragedies can occur, 
  • Continue to increase funding to the New York City Department of Buildings, 
  • Protect Hispanic and immigrant workers who are disproportionately hurt on the job, 
  • And analyze and compile additional data on rising construction fatalities trends in New York City. 

Officials believe that ramping up preventative measures, as well as increasing the consequences for violating any regulations will help to decrease dangers to workers. 

Compensation for Injured Construction Workers

Construction workers help to propel New York City forward, but they often pay the ultimate price. If you, or someone you love, was injured or killed on a construction site, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced legal team will help you to determine if there is a claim for liability arising out of the injury or death. Contact our team at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas + Cannavo P.C. by filling out the form below.

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