NYC’s development boom linked to record high construction accidents


If you have strolled the streets of Manhattan lately, you have no doubt noticed that construction in the city is positively booming. In addition to the massive Hudson Yards project, there are thousands of other skyscrapers and buildings being erected around the city. In fact, the Department of Buildings (DOB) reports that in 2017, some 168,243 construction permits issued — the highest annual number since the DOB was founded in 1977. And according to the Department of Labor, there is also a record number of construction workers employed today, with some 45,242 hardhats hard at work.

This surge in development is great for the economy and the employment rate. Unfortunately, it has also resulted in record numbers of construction accidents. Mayor De Blasio has taken several steps over the past few years to boost safety in the construction industry, including stiffer penalties for those who flout safety regulations, an increase in the number of building inspectors who are tasked with enforcing those regulations, and mandated additional training for construction workers.

One law passed by City Council members last year requires all construction workers in New York City to have completed 30 hours’ worth of safety training by December 1st, 2018. An additional 10 hours of training must be completed by fall 2020. According to Crain’s New York, however, it looks as though the DOB is going to push back that deadline, thereby kicking the can down the road until June 2019.

It seems that a majority of construction workers have been unable to complete the continuing education requirement, largely due to the enormity of the initiative. The training courses must be accredited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and there simply aren’t enough of them to meet the demand created by over 45,000 workers.

The legislators behind the new law included a six-month extension clause, and as the initial deadline approaches, it looks likely that the clause will be enacted. That will give construction companies until June of next year to make sure all employees are in compliance with the new regulations. It will also drastically reduce the scope of delays at construction sites around the city, which would have been negatively impacted by fines and stop-work orders due to noncompliance.

The law also requires that all construction-related workplace injuries and deaths be posted online by the Department of Buildings. In 2016, construction workers accounted for over one-third of all workplace deaths in the city. The first half of 2018 saw 457 worksite accidents, resulting in 469 injuries and eight deaths.

Not only is construction the occupation with the highest rate of fatal accidents, but it also has one of the highest occupational rates of suicide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released the results of a study which shows that male construction workers have a suicide rate of 43.6 out of 100,000 — second only to extraction workers, who clock in with a whopping 53.2 suicides per 100,000 people.

Among the recent accidents at NYC construction sites are 50 instances of falling debris that resulted in injuries; a falling pipe which hit a worker in the head; a construction worker who fell 40’ to the ground, breaking his shoulder and suffering back injuries, because of faulty scaffolding; and a construction worker who was fatally executed after handling a live wire on a job site.

In the aftermath of these devastating construction accidents, victims and their families may feel powerless. While they understand that taking a construction job is inherently risky, it can be hard to accept the reality of injury or death as a result of one’s occupation. Many construction workers who have been injured, or families of those who have been killed on the job, turn to a personal injury attorney to seek relief and compensation.

It may seem like cold comfort to some, but receiving a settlement after a construction accident can go a long way toward making a family whole again. Compensation for lost wages, lost income, lost benefits, loss of pension, and loss of consortium — among other types of compensation — are often necessary if the worker or his family is going to make ends meet. And while it’s difficult to put a price tag on pain and suffering, victims of construction site accidents are entitled to compensation in this area as well.

If you have been injured while on the job, you may be entitled to more than the amount granted you by worker’s compensation insurance. If negligence was involved in the accident that took your loved one’s life or livelihood, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. At any rate, you have nothing to lose by consulting with construction accident lawyers in New York. These personal injury attorneys offer complimentary consultations, with no obligation attached, so that you can discuss your unique situation and determine whether or not to move forward in the legal arena.

Whether NYC Mayor De Blasio’s attempts to enforce safety regulations in the construction industry will have an effect on the fatality and injury rates remains to be seen. Will the majority of the city’s construction workers be in compliance with the new training requirements by 2020? Only time will tell.