Despite several safety efforts and regulations set into place this past year, construction fatalities and injuries are still on the rise in New York. Every day, construction workers go to work to support their families. Some return home with serious injuries from negligent safety practices- and some are not returning home at all.
Construction Injuries Continue to Rise
Construction injuries in New York have been on the rise since the building boom in 2014. The year 2018 was a particularly brutal year with accidents and injuries soaring higher than they’ve been in a decade. According to a 2018 article published in Crain’s New York Business, construction accidents last year had already surpassed 2017 totals by October, not even requiring a full 12-months of data collection to see that accidents continue to skyrocket.
These are only a few of the most devastating construction accidents in 2018:
- In November 2018, a construction worker in Brooklyn was crushed to death by debris that fell from the roof of a three-story building. A forklift on top of the building tipped over and sent unsecured debris falling to the ground, directly on top of the man and causing fatal injuries.
- A scaffolding accident killed a construction worker in July 2018 at a Manhattan worksite. Two of the man’s coworkers were breaking down a scaffolding structure when a beam fell and struck the worker with a fatal blow to the head.
- A retaining wall collapse in Brooklyn back in September 2018 resulted in one fatality after a man was buried in the rubble. The workers were clearing a foundation below when the wall gave away. Six workers were able to escape- one was not.
New York City, which appeared to be doing a bit better than the state overall regarding reduced construction fatalities and injuries, also saw an increase in 2018. Accidents increased 18.4% from 2017 and fatalities rose from four to eight according to the Department of Buildings (DOB), with some areas proving to be more dangers than others.
Highest Injury Area in NYC
Construction projects increased in all five boroughs in NYC, but not all areas experienced the same increase in injuries and accidents. Manhattan proved to be the most fatal and accident-prone borough last year. Starting in January through July in 2018, 248 accidents were reported resulting in 253 injuries and 4 deaths.
The increase in construction accidents and injuries can directly be contributed to the new building boom NYC saw last year, particularly between the months of January and May. Building booms result in more construction sites, more workers, less oversight, and stricter schedules that increase work hours and cause employers to cut corners to get the jobs done on time. Fatigued and overworked employees are already at an increased risk for injuries, but when employers then drop the ball on safety precautions on their worksites, accidents are more likely to happen.
Most Common Construction Violations
Construction sites are naturally dangerous due to the nature of the work and the equipment required to complete it. Yet, despite safety regulations to help keep workers safe, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) spots the same neglectful safety practices on construction sites time and again, ones that lead to hundreds of injuries every year.
The most fatal accidents in construction fit under what is called the Fatal Four in the construction industry: falls, being struck by objects, electrocutions, and caught in/between. OSHA can contribute most of these fatal four accidents to the 10 most frequently cited violations:
- Fall protection.
- Hazard Communication Standard.
- Respiratory Protection.
- Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout).
- Powered Industrial Trucks.
- Fall Protection–Training Requirements.
- Machinery and Machine Guarding Requirements.
- Personal Protective Equipment.
Past Efforts To Reduce Accidents
The steady increase in construction accidents in New York is not a new trend. State officials have been battling the soaring number of construction injuries and fatalities for decades, enacting several laws and regulations in hopes of reducing the hazards leading to these accidents. Past efforts to prevent construction accidents include:
- Higher fines for safety violations on job sites.
- More oversight for worksites.
- More inspections to address safety violations.
- Safety laws to increase the amount of employee safety training required.
One of the most recent laws, Local Law 196, is not having the effect city safety advocates had originally hoped. The law, aiming to set more effective safety training requirements for employers, has seen a number of deadlines pushed back. Even after a year, the Department Of Buildings is having to push back the deadline to complete at least 30 hours of safety training, leaving under trained employees in harm’s way on unsafe worksites.
Prevent Future Construction Accidents
We know how to protect our construction workers on the job, it’s just not happening enough. Some of the most devastating injuries and fatalities are the result of unnecessary accidents that could have been prevented by using general construction safety tips such as these:
- Holding frequent safety training meetings.
- Making sure all safety policies meet the state and federal regulations.
- Always using personal protective equipment on the job.
- Never using damaged equipment.
- Properly training employees on equipment before unsupervised use.
- Understanding fall hazards and how to prevent them.
- Inspecting the worksite before, after, and during every shift.
- Providing appropriate job oversight to monitor safety risks.
- Knowing the most common OSHA violations and addressing them on the job site.
Construction doesn’t have to be deadly. Similar to other industries, construction work can be a safe occupation with the proper safety measures and a tight-knit team committed to keeping all construction workers safe on the job.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, the law firm of Siler & Ingber is here to fight back for you. Our expert team of personal injury attorneys is experienced in construction law and ready to seek justice against the negligent parties that caused your unnecessary injuries. Contact us today at 1-877-529-4343 for a free case evaluation to review your options.