Construction worker deaths continue to rise in New York state

Safety-wise in New York State, 2017 wasn’t as good a year as many involved in the construction industry had hoped for, according to the Annual Report for 2017 just published by the New York Committee on Occupational Safety & Health. But in the City, things were slightly less bleak.

Across the state, 69 construction workers died in 2017. Twenty of them were in New York City. Both numbers were down slightly from the previous year’s 71 (statewide) and 21 (in the City).  But the state’s slight decrease did little to slow the upward trend of fatalities over the past five years – a 39 percent rise overall. In New York City, fatalities have decreased 23 percent.  As of this writing, 2019 is still fatality free, with the most recent death occurring in November 2018 when a worker was crushed by a forklift on a Brooklyn construction site, according to the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB). After its investigation, the department issued a violation citation to the general contractor for a failure to safeguard the site and also issued a full stop-work order, effectively shutting down the site until more thorough investigations by the DOB and the feds at OSHA are complete.

Though the City’s death toll decreased somewhat over the past several years, non-fatal construction accidents took a significant jump in 2018. According to the DOB, 761 construction workers were injured last year. That’s a 13 percent increase from the 671 incidents reported to the DOB in 2017, which makes the 2018 injury total higher than any year of the City’s post-recession building boom.

Delay in Safety Training Requirements

The DOB announced in early November that it has extended the deadline of Local Law 196, an amendment to the city’s building code passed in October 2017. It requires additional OSHA-approved construction worker and supervisor safety training. Originally, all workers and supervisors were required to complete a series of additional safety instructions by December 1, 2018; but the department extended that deadline to June 1, 2019, for supervisors. The deadline does not affect required training for workers. Nothing for them changes from the original requirement to complete an additional 10 hours (for a total of 40 instruction hours – when added to their current 30-hour OSHA training course) by Sept. 1, 2020.

The DOB gave no reason for the delay in its news release. But it is generally accepted throughout the industry that the city is privately acknowledging that the number of safety instruction provider companies is too small to meet the sudden demand. Rather than impose fines and penalties which could have shut down many jobsites, DOB officials decided to extend the supervisor deadline.

Since construction is one of the most dangerous categories of jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, you or a family member may have been seriously injured on a construction jobsite. Might you be owed more damages than New York Workers’ Compensation pays? Find out when you contact Kaplan Lawyers PC anytime by phoning the office nearest you, or use this website to schedule your free case evaluation.