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Fewer inspections = more construction deaths in New York

Photo of Harlan Thompson

Safety experts have been saying it for years: When there are fewer inspections of work sites, there will be more accidents. According to a new report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health, construction sites in New York are no exception.

Amid a drop in safety inspections in New York state (from 2,722 in 2011 to 1,966 in 2015), workplace incidents involving injury or death jumped from 128 to 435 in the same time period. Fatalities in the city rose from 17 in 2011 to 25 in 2015.

Troubling findings across the state

An overall increase in construction accidents and fatalities isn't the only bad news contained in the report. The Committee also released these unfortunate findings:

  • 59 percent of NYC construction deaths were caused by falls, compared with 36 percent nationwide
  • In the past two calendar years, a New York construction worker has died in a preventable accident every two to three weeks.
  • In 2014, nearly 70 percent of OSHA site visits resulted in at least one safety citation.

Discrepancies between union and nonunion construction sites

According to the report, a substantial majority of safety citations were issued at nonunion sites (80 percent in 2014 and 74 percent in 2015). Even more telling, 93 percent of "severe" violators with multiple OSHA violations were nonunion.

As New York grapples with worker safety and examines the role of unions in protecting workers, we can only hope to see this trend reverse. In the meantime, it is essential that injured workers and their families understand their rights. Please contact an attorney if you have any concerns about your medical bills or legal issues after a work-related injury.

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