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New York City construction accident fatalities drop sharply

As we all know, the New York City construction business is one of the most dangerous industries in the city. Far too often we hear of construction accidents that result in serious injuries and fatalities.

That's why the news of a sharp drop last year in city construction fatalities is such welcome news. 

The New York City Buildings Acting Commissioner announced recently that fatal accidents were down 62.5 percent last year.

There were three construction accident fatalities last year, down from eight in 2012.

All of the fatalities last year because of falls, a statement from the commissioner said. The falls were themselves “…due to (a) lack of adequate fall protection at the job site."

The city safety record is perhaps all the more noteworthy because construction activity was up dramatically last year, with a 29 percent rise in construction permits from the previous year.

The Department of Buildings claimed much of the credit for the improved safety record, saying that it had worked hard to communicate to the industry the importance of job site safety. Coupled with stricter enforcement of regulations, the department said, the city enjoyed a safer year in construction.

The department has implemented more than two dozen new safety regulations since 2008, when a pair of deadly crane accidents shook the city.

The department also ramped up enforcement efforts in the wake of those tragedies.

However, not all the news is good: total construction accidents were up 5.7 percent last year from 2012. Construction-related injuries were also up, going from 187 two years ago to 195 last year (a rise of 4.3 percent).

So there is clearly much work remaining to make the construction industry safer for the men and women working in it.

One way to help make it safer is for injured workers to vigorously pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, physical rehabilitation and other damages. 

Source: Occupational Health and Safety, "NYC Construction Deaths Fell 62 Percent Last Year," March 17, 2014

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