Large-scale building projects are a familiar sight in major metropolitan areas like New York City, and construction workers who toil away hundreds of feet above street level perform some of America’s most dangerous jobs. The number of fatal work injuries in the U.S. has been declining in recent years, but the death toll among American workers in 2014 was the highest since 2008. While fatality rates were up in a number of industries, the increase was particularly pronounced in the private construction, mining and gas and oil extraction sectors.
The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries tracks worker fatalities across the country, and preliminary numbers for 2014, which were released in September 2015, have now been updated. The number of private construction industry deaths was 899 in 2014, which represents an increase of 9 percent over the number killed in 2013. Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction fatalities were increased to 183, which makes 2014 the deadliest year for the sector since 2007.
However, death rates were not up among all workers. The number of Latino workers who lost their lives in 2014 was slightly lower than the number who died in 2013, but this modest good news was more than offset by an 8 percent surge in the number of workers at or over the age of 55 who perished. The 1,691 workers 55 years of age or older who died in work-related accidents in 2014 represents the highest ever recorded death rate for this demographic group.
When workers in New York are killed in construction accidents, their survivors often have to deal with an unanticipated financial loss in addition to their grief. They may be eligible to file a claim for death benefits under the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage, and an attorney can explain the procedures involved in filing a claim.