An article released last month by the New York Post revealed a disturbing trend in the construction industry- construction accidents are on the rise! Amid a current building boom across New York City, the rate of construction-related deaths have almost doubled and injuries from construction accidents have increased by 17 percent. The most recent construction tragedy occurred back on September 13, 2018, when a worker was killed in a wall collapse while digging for a residential development in Brooklyn.
The Construction Industry is Deadly
On any given day, almost 6.5 million workers perform their job on a construction site. This is one of the most dangerous industries with one of the highest fatality rates in the country, where daily working hazards can cause severe and fatal injuries in the blink of an eye.
In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded approximately 6,882,000 employed American construction workers. Though these workers only account for 4% of the country’s workforce, the industry’s injury and fatality rates are shockingly high. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported 4,693 workers were killed on the job in 2016- 21.1% of these deaths were in the construction industry. What makes this line of work so dangerous?
The Construction Industry’s Fatal Four
Between massive machinery, hazardous chemicals, and dangerous heights, construction provides more opportunities for workers to get injured than in almost any other industry. What can make these work sites even more dangerous is when proper safety measures and equipment are not used that help prevent workers from catastrophic accidents.
More than 60% of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry can be traced back to what safety organizations call the ‘Fatal Four’, which include:
- Struck by Object
When examining the 2016 fatality statistics, the ‘Fatal Four’ took the lives of 631 workers out of a total of 991 total fatalities in the construction industry that year: Falls (384 fatalities), Struck by Object (93 fatalities), Electrocutions (82 fatalities), Caught-in/between (72 fatalities).
Common Construction Injuries
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports construction is the fifth most dangerous industry in the country, resulting in an average of 71,730 non-fatal construction injuries every year. The top two injuries in construction were back injuries (11,690 cases) and hand injuries (11,200 cases). These and other injuries can range from minor to debilitating, some of the most common listed by Industrial Safety & Hygiene News include:
- Burns and scarring
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Broken, crushed, fractured bones
- Hearing loss
- Stress injuries
- Heat stroke
- Vision loss
The longer a worker remains in construction, the higher their chances of injuries become. A construction worker with a 45-year career in the industry has a 1-in-200 chance of a fatal injury and a 75% chance of a disabling injury, and these increase further when employees are working under unsafe or unprotected working conditions.
How NYC Employers Can Protect Workers
Most accidents in the construction industry are completely preventable by following safety protocols and using the proper protective equipment. While some employers are outright negligent on their work sites, other employers may be genuinely unaware they are putting their employees at risk until after a catastrophe occurs.
OSHA encourages all construction contractors and employers to start making their work sites safer by reviewing the most popular reasons for safety violations during inspections:
- Fall protection failures
- Not following hazard communication standards
- Scaffolding violations
- Respiratory protection failures
- Lack of controlling hazardous enters (lockout/tag out)
- Unsafe use of ladders
- Powered industrial truck violations
- Machinery and machine guard negligence
- Lack of fall protection training
- Improper electrical and wiring methods
Employers are responsible for doing their research in knowing the appropriate safety equipment required for each assigned task on the job site. Examples of the most commonly used personal protective equipment in construction include:
- Hearing protections
- Protective gloves
- Face shield (full, half)
- Goggles for chemical splashes
- Respiratory protection
- Fall protection equipment
- Protective clothing and footwear
The construction industry is hazardous enough without accidents caused by lack of safety precautions. Employees can greatly reduce their risks of injuries by wearing the appropriate safety equipment and employers should be providing these for each job.
NYC Construction Workers Have Rights
New York City construction workers have the right to effective safety measures, training, and protections on the job. If you or loved one has sustained a construction injury due to the negligence of another, our winning team is here to help. For over 20 years, the construction accident lawyers of Siler & Ingber has fought aggressively for the right for NYC construction workers to have a safe and protective working environment. Contact us at 1-877-529-4343 for a free consultation.