Construction sites in New York City have seen a significant increase in accidents. Since the 2008 recession, this industry has recorded a worth noting statistical trend in construction accidents. For instance, an increase in construction activities in 2014 saw a big jump in the number of injuries or fatalities, unlike the previous year. Later, 2018 became the most dangerous year for construction workers. However, it did not stop at that since, in 2019, more than 280 injuries and five deaths occurred across the city. The construction industry is a big boost for the overall New York economy. However, proper strategies must be in place to avoid construction accidents. This article explains what NYC is doing to prevent construction accidents in New York City.
Construction Site Accidents in New York CityConstruction is among the most dangerous occupations in New York City and continuously records the most work-related deaths, unlike other occupations. The Environmental Control Board (ECB) has the mandate to monitor construction sites to see whether they comply with the construction codes and zoning resolutions. Unfortunately, reports indicate that most sites violate them. Contractors cut corners to save budgets and meet building deadlines that come with high burdens. As the infrastructure in the city continues to age, there is pressure to replace the structures to adhere to safety regulations. Contractors respond to that by hiring cheap labor, forging counterfeit training cards, and using inexpensive materials to get the work done fast and cheaply. Construction site accidents occur in different ways, but four of them significantly stand out. In fact, the official accounts refer to them as the fatal four. They include:
Construction FallsFalls make up more than 30% of the accidents on construction sites. Construction workers climb up tall buildings using ladders and scaffolding equipment; thus, fall can always be a risk.
Struck by Falling ObjectsFalling objects pose a high risk not only for construction workers but also passersby on the adjacent street. Whether big or small, any object falling from the top of the building can cause serious injury or even death since it gains a high amount of force as it falls from an elevated height.
Trapped ‘In-Between’Caught ‘in-between’ is another category of construction site-related accidents. It involves a worker getting trapped in or caught in between heavy objects or equipment. This category also includes workers crushed in collapsing structures.
ElectrocutionElectricity is important to get work completed in most construction sites. However, electrocution is a major problem and contributes to construction site accidents. For example, unsafe wiring can cause electrocution, and the injuries lead to amputation, burns, or even death.
Construction Accidents in 2021In 2021 alone, New York City had experienced seven fatalities before September. Two of them occurred in May in less than two weeks. In the first case, an elevator collapsed in the Bronx, causing a serious injury and a fatality. It involved a supervisor and a right-hand man where the elevator collapsed from the fourth floor to the ground. A separate incident involved a construction worker who lost his life after a fall from the sixth to the second floor. According to reports, the worker tripped on an elevator shaft. Such accidents are tragic losses of life. Since many have occurred in NYC, construction sites in the region do not have proper safety equipment or neglect safety regulations and place workers in perilous situations. So what is NYC doing to prevent such incidences?
NYC Efforts to Prevent Construction Accidents
Zero Tolerance CampaignThe seven fatalities happened in a span of five months and sparked a citywide crackdown that has ended with about 1,500 stop-work orders and 3,600 safety violations. The ‘Zero Tolerance‘ operation began in June and combed about 7,500 construction sites in the city. Indeed, the campaign has emerged successful since no more fatalities occurred since its launch. The program involved inspections to beef up the usual regular enforcement visits that occur throughout the year. Many of the stop-work orders under the Zero Tolerance operation went to Manhattan, 545 out of 1,499, while Brooklyn ranked top as the borough with most violations at 1,252. Stop-work orders in other boroughs were 46 on Staten Island, 144 in the Bronx, 339 in Queens, and 425 in Brooklyn. Contractors who rectified the unsafe conditions are lucky to have their shutdowns withdrawn, but the site has to pass the follow-up visitors by the inspectors from the Building Department.
Unannounced InspectionsAfter the sweep, the inspectors have moved to conduct unannounced safety inspections at construction sites and further interventions at sites that violate safety. Going by the statistics, there have been 27 deaths in the past four years, with 2021 recording the seven. Most construction site-related injuries result from falling if workers fail to harness properly when working on higher floors. Melanie La Rocca is the building commissioner in the city and notes that construction companies and city officials must work hand in hand to ensure they keep the worksites safe. She further notes that despite DOB enforcement being crucial in promoting safety in construction sites, the official cannot be in every site at all times. Therefore, protecting construction workers require a partnership to ensure enhanced all-time supervision and accountability. However, Trades Council President LaBarbera states the need to accomplish more, especially on non-union worksites, beyond the efforts in the previous years, aiming towards improving and enhancing construction site safety.
Proposed BillsBesides, the department notes that it will renew its efforts in supporting construction safety legislation. Currently, five proposed laws are already in the County Council and seek to enhance oversight and accountability in the construction sites. These include adding site safety supervision, increasing cold-formed steel construction requirements, new licensing rules for contractors, and banning stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.
Seek Legal Help!Construction accidents are unfortunately too common. NYC is making some progress in cutting these numbers but looking at the statistics, there is a need for more efforts. When a worker suffers an injury on a construction site, he or she needs justice and could even be eligible for compensation. For that to happen, one needs to seek legal assistance from dedicated attorneys. Chaikin LaPenna, PLLC, has fought for the rights of NY residents for years. Contact us for legal advice on your situation.
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