According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Organization (OSHA), 18 workers died while working on construction sites in New York City alone during the last federal fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2014, and recently ended on September 30, 2015. This number represents a staggering 50 percent increase in NYC construction fatalities when compared to the previous 12-month period.
In addition, half of the construction deaths over the last fiscal year were attributed to worker falls, according to the New York Daily News. What is particularly saddening is that these nine deaths occurred despite the fact the New York Labor Law 240 - also known as the scaffolding law - is supposed to protect workers on ladders, scaffolding and in other situations involving significant heights.
Possible reasons for the increase in NYC construction deaths?
Even though construction is an inherently dangerous industry, this fact alone may not be enough to explain the recent and substantial increase in construction fatalities throughout New York City. Indeed, according to a recent report by the New York Daily News, there may other factors at play.
For instance, this report discovered that while building permits increased 18 percent in NYC from 2011 to 2014 - signifying a boom in construction - the actual number of available site-safety inspectors dropped almost 6 percent during the same period.
So, while contractors are busy erecting more buildings, the number of people in charge of ensuring these worksites are safe is declining. The obvious question presents itself: How can construction workers stay safe if this trend continues? The answer is clear, they can't.
Quite simply, something needs to be done to remedy this epidemic of construction fatalities and injuries in NYC, especially since the recent spike in deaths indicates the construction companies cannot be trusted to do it alone.
Source: New York Daily News, "As NYC's building boom takes off, number of site-safety inspectors drop - and construction fatalities spike", Greg B. Smith, October 18, 2015