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Five Years of New York City Construction Accidents: Maps, Statistics and Analysis

March 24, 2020 in

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Construction workers ply their trades in one of the most dangerous industries in the United States.  Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in New York where, despite significant worker protection laws and heavy regulation, construction workers are injured or killed on a near-daily basis.

  • In February 2019, nine workers were hospitalized after being overcome by carbon monoxide while shoring the formwork in a cellar in Manhattan.  In total, ten construction workers reported injuries.
  • In April 2019, one worker was killed and another injured in Manhattan when a 7.5-ton crane counterweight fell from it’s resting position on the crane.
  • In August 2019, one worker was killed and another five were injured when an inadequately braced framing stage collapsed during the construction of a four-story building in the Bronx.
  • In November 2019, four workers were injured when a scaffolding deck collapsed on the 17th floor of a construction site.

In fact, between January 2015 and December 2019, 59 construction workers were killed and another 3,045 were injured in New York City construction accidents.  We examined nearly five full years of construction accident reports from the New York City Department of Buildings to learn more about the risks that construction workers face in New York.

[Map] Five Years of NYC Construction Accidents

Map created by Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas + Cannavo, P.C.

This map is interactive.  Click on each bubble to reveal more information about each accident.

Manhattan Leads the Way in Construction Accidents

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of serious construction site accidents occur in the borough of Manhattan.  In fact, Manhattan accounted for more than 60 percent of construction site injuries and 52 percent of construction site fatalities.

This is likely due to the sheer number of workers and the vast size of the projects.  Currently, Manhattan has a number large scale construction projects in various stages of development and 158,336 more construction permits (436,808 in total) were issued there than the next closest borough (Brooklyn with 278,472) during the study period.

However, if we adjust the numbers based on the number of permits issued, we find that there are nearly twice as many accidents and injuries in Manhattan per permit, than in the next closest borough.

New York City Construction Injuries and Deaths by Borough: Permit Adjusted

Borough NameInjuriesInjury RateFatalitiesDeath Rate
Manhattan1840421.24317.10
Brooklyn606217.62165.75
Queens369175.9083.81
Bronx171217.1533.81
Staten Island59121.8812.07

*Rates are expressed per 100,000 construction permits.

When looking at total injuries by specific address and project, we found that 18 of the 25 projects with the most accidents and injuries were located in Manhattan.

Construction Accidents by Address

Central Park Tower Accidents

AddressBoroughBuilding NameAccidentInjuryFatal
217 West 57th StreetManhattanCentral Park Tower32311
500 West 33rd StreetManhattan35 Hudson Yards32320
220 Central Park SouthManhattan220 Central Park South Luxury Residences30300
252 East 57th StreetManhattan252 East 57 Street Luxury Residences30330
422 Fulton StreetBrooklynMacy’s Building23231
1283 York AvenueManhattanDavid H. Koch Center23250
147-40 Archer AvenueQueensAlvista Tower:  The Crossing at Jamaica Station21220
1865 BroadwayManhattanLuxury Residences19190
2 Park PlaceManhattanThe Woolworth Tower Residences18180
42 West 33rd StreetManhattanSolari18200
1681 3rd AvenueManhattanLuxury Residences17170
43-25 Hunter StreetQueensHayden17170
550 West 34th  StreetManhattan55 Hudson Yards17180
701 7th AvenueManhattanThe Times Square Edition17170
209 East 19th StreetManhattanThe Tower at Gramercy Square16170
22-44 Jackson AvenueQueens5 Pointz Towers15150
545 West 30th StreetManhattanThe Shed15150
600 Bergen AvenueBronxLA Central15150
388 Greenwich StreetManhattanFormer Travelers Building14140
400 West 61st StreetManhattanTwo Waterline Square14140
138 Willoughby StreetBrooklynBrooklyn Point13140
233 West 125th StreetManhattanThe Victoria Theatre Redevelopment13130
180 Water StreetManhattan180 Water12120
260 West 40th StreetManhattanAC Hotel New York Times Square12120
28-30 Jackson AvenueQueensJackson Park12120

Interestingly, the Amazon Fulfillment center was 26th on the list with 12 accidents and 12 injuries.

Only two buildings had more than one fatality.  Both 1 Manhattan West at 400 West 33 Street in Manhattan (in two separate accidents) and 81-10 135th Street in Queens  (in an incident were a 6,500 lb beam fell) saw two workers killed.

How are Workers Injured and Killed?

Falls, crane accidents, poorly constructed scaffolding, carbon monoxide poisoning, wall collapses.  There are hundreds of ways construction workers can be hurt or injured.  Falls are far and away the most common cause of injury and death in NYC construction accidents – with 801 injuries and 28 deaths – followed by falling construction materials with 429 injuries and 11 deaths.

Incident TypeAccidentsInjuriesFatalities
Worker Fell80580128
Material Fell38542911
Mechanical Construction Equipment1381517
Scaffold/Shed/Fence/Shoring/Installation761022
Excavation/Soil Work29302

Most Accidents Do Not Result In a Violation Being Issued

Of the 2,940 construction accidents that we reviewed, only 1,038 resulted in an ECB (Environmental Control Board) or DOB (Department of Buildings) violation, a little over 35 percent.  However, all but three accidents that resulted in a fatality resulted in a violation.

When are Construction Workers Most Often Injured and Killed?

NYC Construction Accidents by Month

In terms of the time of year, both accidents and injuries peak in the summer months.  Interestingly, the most fatalities occurred in April (10) followed by September and November (both with 7).

New York City Construction Accidents by Contractor

Twenty-five contractors had 10 or more injuries on their job sites.  Tishman Construction Corporation led the way with 50 accidents, 49 injuries and 1 fatality followed by Lendlease Construction with 41 injuries and Turner Construction Company with 34 injuries.  No contractors had more than one fatal accident.  In fact, only one contractor had more that one worker killed – CRV Precast Construction saw two workers die in a single accident.

Contractors with the Most Accidents in NYC: 2015-2019

RankContractor NameAccidentsInjuriesFatalities
1Tishman Construction Corporation50491
2Lendlease (Us )Construction41411
3Turner Construction Company33340
4Gilbane Building Company29310
5New Line Structures & Development26260
6CNY Construction LLC25260
7T.G. Nickel & Associates23231
8Pavarini Mcgovern LLC22220
9Flintlock Construction Services LLC21201
10Hunter Roberts Construction Group20200
11Plaza Construction LLC18180
12Mountco Construction & Development17170
13Cauldwell Wingate Co LLC16170
14CM And Associates Construction15150
15Triton Construction Co., LLC15150
16Hudson Meridian Construction13140
17E.W. Howell Co. LLC13130
18Monadnock Construction Inc13130
19Hudson Yards Construction12150
20Leeding Builders Group LLC12120
21Noble Construction Gr LLC11120
22Transparent Construction11110
23ZDG, LLC11140
24Bravo Builders LLC10100
25DDG Development LLC9100

Construction Safety Tips

Construction work is inherently dangerous, but contractors, workers and site owners can take measures to make construction sites as safe as possible.

Questions to ask include:

  • Is the work being done permitted?
  • Can workers get to their work area safely? Are these work areas free form trip hazards and obstructions? Are the areas adequately lit?
  • Are roads, passages, staircases, and ladders in good condition?
  • Are guard rails in place on all elevated platforms scaffolding and holes to prevent falls?
  • Are construction materials being stored safely and properly? Is waste being properly stored and removed?

Scaffolding and Ladders

  • Were all of the scaffolds built, modified, or dismantled by a properly trained and capable person?
  • Are all scaffolds secure, structurally sound, and properly braced? Are they inspected before every use?
  • Are there adequate guard rails in place to prevent accidental falls?
  • Are the platforms fully boarded and arranged to avoid tripping?
  • Are there notices in place to prevent working form using incomplete, or defective scaffolds?
  • Does a capable person inspect the scaffolds at least weekly?
  • Are the correct ladders being used when called for and are they being used correctly?
  • Are all ladders used in good condition and secured before use?
  • Do all ladders reach the intended height sufficiently?

Powered Equipment, Tools and Machinery

  • Has all equipment been erected by a capable person?
  • Is fixed equipment properly connected to the structure against which it operates?
  • Are precautions in place to prevent workers from being struck by moving equipment?
  • Are operators of said equipment trained and competent to use this equipment?
  • Are the correct tools and equipment being used?
  • Have all tools and equipment been inspected properly before each use?

Roof Work

  • Is there protection in place to prevent workers from falling off?
  • Is there protection in place to prevent materials from falling off?
  • Are harnesses available if needed by workers?
  • Are people excluded from below when the roof is being worked?
  • If not, are their precautions taken to prevent debris from falling on the workers below?

Excavations and Confined Spaces

  • Is the excavation area inspected properly each time workers enter?
  • Are there adequate supporting materials and are they strong enough to support the sides?  Are workers safe when placing supports?
  • Are the walls of the excavation sloped? If so, is the angle correct so as to prevent collapse? Does the excavation affect neighboring buildings or structures?
  • Is there safe access to and from the excavation? Are there properly secured guardrails?
  • Can working in confined spaces be avoided?
  • Has a risk assessment been carried out?
  • Has the space been monitored for possible toxic pathogens before entry?
  • Is there adequate venting for carbon monoxide?
  • Is continuous monitoring necessary while working in the space?
  • Are workers properly trained and medically fit?
  • Are there rescue measures in place in case of an emergency?

Fire, Emergencies and Hazardous Substances

  • Have emergency plans been developed and are all workers aware of them?
  • Are there an adequate amount of escape routes and are they kept clear during construction work?
  • Have all chemicals been properly identified and have the risks involved been properly assessed?
  • Is protective equipment provided to the workers? Is it being used?
  • How are chemicals and hazardous waste being stored or disposed of?

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