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Construction fatalities still rising in New York

NYCOSH report has mixed news for New York City and the rest of the state

In the city that never sleeps, even the skyline can change in a New York minute. The city’s construction boom continues to change the face of the city, but it can have dangerous implications for workers.

Throughout New York State, construction site fatalities are rising even faster than the super-tall skyscrapers changing the look of major cities. Worker deaths show no sign of slowing, according to a recent report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH).

2016: The deadliest year on record

In 2016, the most recent year with data available, 71 workers died in construction-related accidents in New York State, according to NYCOSH and CBS Local. With fatal construction accidents occurring more than once a week on average, that’s the highest number of fatalities since 2002.

“I certainly wasn’t anticipating this level of a jump in New York state,” said Charlene Obernauer, the author of the report. According to the report, New York is one of the deadliest states for construction workers, with workers dying at 4.6 the rate of overall workers nationwide.

A silver lining for NYC

While the overall findings are dire, there is one bright spot in the report: Construction deaths in New York City actually fell from 25 in 2015 to 21 in 2016. What’s responsible for the drop, and why isn’t it consistent with the statewide findings?

Many point to NYC’s recent efforts to crack down on dangerous worksites. City officials have made construction accident prevention a focus in recent years and, if the data is any indication, it may be working.

In contrast, worksites statewide have been affected by agency budget cuts, which translate to a dip in inspections and, ultimately, more hazardous workplaces. We hope that this report will lead a push to make construction safety a priority all over the state.

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