The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) is responsible for regulating the lawful use of more than one million buildings and construction sites throughout the five boroughs. The department enforces compliance with regulations and promotes worker and public safety through building plan approval, permitting, licensing, and inspections. After three fatal NYC construction accidents in 2021, the DOB mobilized teams of inspectors to conduct zero tolerance sweeps at major construction sites in the city.
How Common Are Construction Deaths in New York City?
- Although construction workers make up only 5% of the total NYC workforce, they account for 27% of work-related injury fatalities, as stated by NYC government.
- NYC construction fatality rates are more than five times higher than for all industries in the city.
- From 2007 to 2014, 159 preventable deaths occurred among NYC construction workers.
- Falls accounted for more than half (58%) of fatal unintentional injuries among construction workers.
- Most fatal falls were from scaffolds (25%), followed by ladders (16%), and then by roofs (11%).
- 32% of unintentional construction fatalities occurred when workers were struck, crushed, or caught between objects or equipment.
What Is DOB Doing to Help Keep Workers Safe?
The NYC Department of Buildings is conducting zero tolerance safety sweeps, targeting thousands of construction sites to evaluate safety conditions. These inspections can have strict consequences for worksites that fall short of full compliance with existing safety guidelines. Construction sites with serious violations can be shut down. In addition, companies could face steep fines of up to $25,000 per violation.
On each worksite subject to a safety sweep, inspectors are evaluating the following safety guidelines:
- Construction projects are in full compliance with required safety plans.
- Contractors and safety professionals are following NYC construction safety regulations.
- Workers are making proper use of fall arrest systems and safety harnesses where required.
As falls are a major cause of construction worker fatalities, DOB inspectors distribute information about fall prevention to workers on the sites they inspect. Despite recent legislation requiring construction workers to undergo training and national awareness campaigns, falls remain the leading cause of death for NYC construction workers.
What More Is Being Done to Promote Construction Worker Safety?
In addition to the zero tolerance safety sweeps, the DOB announced five new construction safety bills in a 2021 press release. The department also announced comprehensive updates to NYC Construction Codes introduced by the City Council. These safety bills and code revisions are designed to work in tandem to better protect construction workers on the job, as well as the general public. The new legislation is intended to reduce construction site injuries by:
- Licensing general contractors who perform construction;
- Requiring more site safety supervision at larger worksites;
- Strengthening safety requirements for cold-formed steel construction; and
- Permanently banning the use of dangerous stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.
What Should You Do If You Have Been Injured on a Construction Site?
After a serious construction site accident, your first priority is to get immediate medical attention for your injuries. Report the accident to your employer as soon as possible. You should be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, which will cover your medical expenses and reimburse you for a portion of your lost wages.
As soon as you are able, speak with an experienced New York personal injury attorney. You may have a personal injury claim for compensation against a negligent party, in addition to workers’ comp.
At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, we have extensive experience successfully representing injured construction workers. Our New York personal injury lawyers have recovered more than $1 billion in compensation for our clients. Call us to schedule a free consultation at (212) 986-7353.