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Recent crane accidents highlight New York risks

Over the past several months, construction crane collapses have been prominent in the news. To the casual observer, it can seem as if cranes are now crashing down all around us. The effect is amplified by disturbing videos from cellphones or surveillance cameras.

As vivid as these sometimes-deadly accidents are, most people have little chance of being hurt in an accident like this. But such videos are a good reminder that construction workers living with the constant possibility of injury or deathis not a trick of perspective.

Seemingly a rash of crane accidents

On April 27, a construction crane atop a Seattle office building injured 4 people and killed 4 others, including two iron workers on the project. The crane was being dismantled at the time of the collapse.

On June 9, a construction crane collapsed on a Dallas, Texas, apartment building killing one, injuring five and leaving more than 500 residents unable to return to their homes.

Although these received considerable attention nationally, many other serious crane accidents are barely noticed beyond their neighborhoods.

On April 13, a Brooklyn construction worker was killed at 3:15 a.m. near the mouth of the Holland Tunnel.

Gregory Echevarria, 34, was part of a crew assembling a 16-wheeled construction crane when a 7.5-ton counterweight fell, killing him at the scene. A father of four children, the Army veteran had survived a tour in Afghanistan and 3 tours in Iraq, according to Daily News.

The newspaper notes that the crane company’s website boasts of being the largest non-union crane company in the city. In 2016, after a crane accident killed two of its workers, it was cited for serious violations and fined $64,517.

Statewide fatalities high while fines are low

New York’s construction jobs are dangerous, with 69 construction workers having died in 2017, the most recent available numbers.

Fatalities in New York City appear to be gradually declining, but deaths statewide are climbing at an alarming rate, according to “Deadly Skyline,” the annual report released early this year by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH).

According to the report, non-union job sites are especially dangerous, with 93% of workers who died on the job in New York City being non-union. The report also emphasized that OSHA’s fines for fatal construction worker accidents averaged just $21,644.

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