Fatal Injuries on New York Construction Sites Rise Dramatically in Latest Fiscal Year
Even someone paying only casual attention to the news has noticed that serious accidents seem to be occurring on New York construction sites at an alarming rate. In fact, New York City has seen a sharp increase in the number of fatal accidents on job sites over the last 12 months. Over the course of the fiscal year spanning from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that 18 workers were killed on New York City worksites. This is up from 12 construction worker deaths in the previous year, and seven in the year prior to that. OSHA reports that half of these workers were killed by a fall, with the second leading cause of death being improperly-supported walls falling on workers and crushing them.
Some have attributed this rise in fatal accidents to a low availability of safety inspectors for work sites. While construction continues to explode in New York, with requests for building permits rising 18% between 2011 and 2014, the number of site safety inspectors has dropped by 6% during that same time period. Construction site managers are required to hire these inspectors for their sites, and due to the shortage, they are paying a premium to keep inspectors from moving on to a better offer. Safety inspectors are retiring at faster rates than they can be replaced by new inspectors. The favorability of the market has led to some retired inspectors returning to job sites, but due to their advanced age, failing to inspect sites with the diligence and thoroughness required to adequately ensure worker safety.
An accident from earlier in the year highlights the important role that safety inspectors play on job sites, and the tragedy that can result from ignoring their warnings. Despite a safety inspector’s repeated warnings to a subcontractor that a trench the subcontractor was tasked with digging was improperly supported, no measures were taken to ameliorate the unsafe condition. The inspector continued to notify those in charge on the site of the danger even in the minutes before the trench’s collapse, which resulted in the death of a 22-year-old worker.
New Jersey has seen a recent spate of construction accidents, as well. In one incident currently under OSHA investigation, a cinder block fell from a Trump tower being constructed in Jersey City and hit a police officer.
If you’ve been injured at a construction site by an unsafe condition caused by a general contractor, subcontractor, owner, faultily-installed safety equipment, or a negligent safety inspector, contact New York and New Jersey personal injury attorney Andrew R. Jacobs for a consultation, at 973-532-9681.