Chopra & Nocerino, LLP

Garden City Construction Injury Blog

More action may be needed for construction safety

FireStarter Speaking and Consulting has released its "2019 People in Construction Report," which shows that many construction professionals are doing little to improve safety in the industry. Of those executives who were surveyed for the report, 85% said they believe safety is a top priority. On the other hand, 93% of field supervisors and 97% of those in office positions said the same. New York residents may see these survey results as a sign that there is more talk than action.

In fact, only 68% of field supervisors could claim that they work in a consistently safe manner. For a job site supervisor, to work in a safe manner means to promote safe practices and address safety hazards. In other words, the results show that nearly one in three of these supervisors are failing to do this.

Construction, transportation see rise in worker deaths

Almost half of the worker fatalities in 2017 were in the construction and transportation industries according to global investment firm Conning. Workers in New York should know that there are several factors involved in this trend.

One is a lack of healthy workers and the lowering of hiring standards. Many are being hired who have drug and alcohol addictions: From 2013 to 2017, the number of workplace drug and alcohol overdoses has gone up 25% with U.S. Drug Test Centers saying that the Midwest states have the highest rates.

Construction safety and employment trends

Around 6 million people in New York and across the U.S. work in construction, making up around 4% of the workforce. At the same time, they see some of the highest injury and fatality rates. In 2012, just over 19% of worker fatalities, 806 out of 4,175, were in the construction industry. That same year, construction workers saw the seventh highest rate of non-fatal injuries requiring time off work: 382 out of every 10,000 full-time workers.

More than half of those construction fatalities in 2012 were due to one of four causes: falls, struck-by incidents, electrocution and incidents where employees were caught in between machinery. Falls also accounted for 22% of non-fatal injuries and illnesses.

New York City sees construction deaths, injuries skyrocket

As of April, 16 construction workers have died in the city of New York in 2019. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that the city sees more deaths in construction than in any other industry. The number of worksite deaths has gone up 33% in the past five years. Even more startling, the number of injuries has gone up 221% in the same period.

April alone saw three deaths, including one worker who was crushed by a crane and another who was killed by falling debris. Analysts say that the pressure of deadlines can lead many to cut corners. Contractors who underbid a job try to save money through cheap, inexperienced labor.

Reducing the number of falls on New York jobsites

If you work in construction in New York, you know that many of these projects are vertical. Tall buildings are common in this area, and you may find yourself working from heights on a regular basis. Your job may come with certain inherent risks, but that does not mean you should face unnecessary exposure to preventable safety concerns.

One of the most important steps for construction site managers and employers is to prevent falls as much as possible. Falls are some of the most common jobsite accidents, and these types of incidents are significantly more likely to result in serious or fatal injuries. To reduce the number of these incidents and keep workers safe, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a prevention campaign to promote fall awareness. 

New York City councilman calls for safety law implementation

Three fatal construction accidents in one week have prompted a New York City councilman to call for the implementation of a workplace safety law that was enacted in 2017. The councilman says that the training protocols required by Local Law 196 may have prevented one or all of the fatalities. While the deadline for employers to meet the 40 hours of safety training mandated by the law remains Sept. 1, 2020, the date for reaching 30 hours of training has been moved from Dec. 1 to June 1, 2020.

The first of the three fatal construction accidents occurred on April 8 when a window washer died after being struck by a piece of falling masonry on the east Side. The second took place on April 10 and claimed the life of a worker who was stacking bricks at a construction site in Brooklyn Heights. The third happened in SoHo during the early morning hours of April 13 and killed a worker who was assembling a crane.

Construction accident deaths in New York continue to rise

More people die working in construction than any other industry in New York state. With all the dangerous equipment and the immense height of some worksites, shouldn't protecting workers like you bet the number on focus? Safety groups are worried that standards are too low and need to improve.

More needs to be done to protect construction workers

Construction workers in New York face many hazards while they are on the job. Even though construction work is among the most dangerous types of jobs, many workers are paid low wages. New York's city council is considering a bill that would require construction companies that have government contracts to pay the prevailing wage. However, more needs to be done to improve the safety of the workers.

The bill includes provisions that call for classroom and on-the-job training to help to prevent the types of accidents and injuries that can be prevented with education. Training is beneficial to both the workers and their employers.

Safety tips to reconsider for Ladder Safety Month

The American Ladder Institute designated March as Ladder Safety Month as a way to raise safety awareness, reduce the number of OSHA violations and encourage inspections. Ladder-related accidents are to blame for more than 100 deaths and thousands of injuries every year. Employers in New York will want to know what they can do to reduce the risk for these incidents.

It all starts with choosing the right ladder. Most workers climb ladders with tools and other equipment, so employers must follow the right weight/load recommendations. Also, OSHA has a specific rule on how to position non-self-supporting ladders -- the horizontal distance between the top support and the ladder's bottom should be about one-fourth the ladder's working length.

Improving health and safety in construction

The pressure to meet deadlines and stay within budget causes many construction managers to neglect worker safety. This is part of the reason why the construction fatality rate is so high in New York and across the U.S. In 2016, there were 4,693 fatalities in private industries, and of those, one in five were construction employees.

First of all, OSHA has implemented rules of practice called Safety and Health Regulations for Construction. Managers should not only make sure they are following these standards but also set clear expectations among employees. That way, employees can work together toward a common goal of developing a safety culture.

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