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Are union jobs really safer? NYC encouraged to track accidents and find out

Thanks to a recovering economy and certain financial incentives, New York is experiencing a tremendous construction boom. Workers are busy and projects are profitable - but the news isn't all good.

In 2015, New York City saw 433 accidents and 471 injuries on construction worksites. Those figures are about double what they were in the previous year, according to the New York Daily News. And with 12 construction fatalities last year - a 50 percent increase over 2014 - safety advocates are looking for ways to make construction sites safer for workers.

Are union jobs safer?

Some believe that this increase in construction accidents and fatalities is tied to the growing percentage of nonunion construction jobs in New York. While union workers used to make up more than 90 percent of the city's construction force, they now account for only about 60 percent.

Union workers have long been considered safer and more skilled in New York City. As an example, many proponents of union labor point to a preventable fatality in 2015. Carlos Moncayo, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was killed in a trench collapse on a nonunion site - after safety inspectors warned nonunion supervisors about the dangerous trench for months.

Does the conventional wisdom that union sites are safer hold true? Without adequate data on construction accidents, it's hard to tell. But the New York Committee on Housing and Buildings wants to fix that.

The committee has called on the city to begin classifying construction accidents as union or nonunion in order to better understand the circumstances surrounding safety violations and injuries.

We hope that New York can begin collecting the necessary data to understand and prevent these tragic accidents. In the meantime, we continue to fight for workers who have been injured on the job.

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