Surge in construction deaths far outpaces new construction


Construction accidents in New York City are soaring and safety inspectors are struggling to keep up.

Construction is a dangerous industry and one that leaves workers at a much higher risk of being injured compared to most other industries. In recent years, construction injuries have surged in New York City. According to many contractors, the reason for this surge is simply because construction itself has been booming. However, as the New York Times recently reported, construction accidents are far outpacing the number of new construction projects and the real reason behind the surge in injuries and deaths may be because of a growing number of safety lapses and violations at building sites.

Construction injuries on the rise

As the Commercial Observer reports, construction accidents and injuries both soared in 2015. Accidents rose close to 40 percent, from 231 in 2014 to 323 in 2015. The overall number of injuries caused by those accidents surged nearly 45 percent, from 246 in 2014 to 356 last year.

Accidents and injuries also increased in all five boroughs except for the Bronx, where accidents decreased slightly from 11 to 10. Manhattan saw both the greatest number of accidents and injuries. Accidents in Manhattan in 2015 increased by 30 percent to 221, while injuries soared 34 percent to 236.

Safety lapses

Because New York City is currently going through a construction boom, there has been some tendency, particularly among contractors and subcontractors, to see an increase in accidents as simply an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of an increase in overall construction. But the New York Times points out that while in the last fiscal year worker injuries soared by 53 percent, permits for new construction projects rose by just 11 percent. In other words, construction accidents in New York City are far outpacing actual construction.

One way the construction boom may be leading to more injuries, however, is by stretching thin the resources and time of safety inspectors. With inspectors trying to keep up with more projects, the potential for safety lapses is increasing. Indeed, most deaths and injuries that have occurred at New York construction sites during the past year were preventable and were often caused by a lack of compliance with even basic safety regulations. In many cases, for example, supervision was lacking and workers were working without harnesses or hard hats. Furthermore, workers who were most likely to be injured and killed on the job were recent immigrants and non-unionized laborers.

Workers’ compensation

Construction may be a dangerous job, but that is no excuse for contractors and subcontractors to cut corners when it comes to safety. Any worker who has been injured on the job should contact a workers’ compensation attorney right away. An attorney may be able to help injured workers recover compensation, which may prove highly useful for paying medical expenses and covering income that may have been lost from time taken off work.