According to the report “Deadly Skyline: An Annual Report on Construction Fatalities in New York State,” from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, 464 construction workers died in New York between 2006 and 2015, and fatality rates have trended up 40% between 2011 and 2015. Falls are the leading cause of fatalities, accounting for 49% of construction deaths in the state and 59% in the city.
“Employing approximately (4%) of the state’s workforce, the construction industry sees one-fifth of workplace fatalities,” the report said. In addition, OSHA found safety violations at two-thirds of the site inspections it conducted in New York in 2014. A high percentage of sites where fatalities occurred – 87% in 2014 and 90% in 2015 – were found to have safety violations when inspected by OSHA. The report also noted non-union construction sites were especially dangerous for workers. Eighty percent of construction fatalities occurred at non-union sites in 2014, and 74% of fatalities were at non-union sites in 2015.
Latino workers also face a disproportionate risk of dying in construction incidents; 57% of construction workers who died in 2015 were Latino even though they comprise only 30% of the construction workforce.
Employer takeaway: Construction is the most dangerous industry in the country with the highest number of fatalities. In addition to tougher legislation and higher penalties, NYCOSH’s recommends:
- require OSHA’s 10-Hour Construction training program or equivalent training for all construction workers as well as apprenticeship programs on large sites
- preservation of New York’s Scaffold Safety Law, which holds building site owners and employers liable for worker injuries and deaths resulting from unsafe conditions at elevated worksites
- expanded monitoring and enforcement of construction sites, including criminal prosecution of contractors, and revocation of licenses and permits for contractors convicted of a felony related to a worker fatality
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