New York City has recently experienced a building boom. While construction soars, a concerning side effect seems to only be getting worse: worker injuries and fatalities. The death of two construction workers last month in Queens was the final straw for the New York City Council. Recently, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke in favor of reforming the city’s construction safety rules.
The City Council scheduled an oversight hearing regarding better safety for workers, with the goal of reducing fatalities to zero. This new scrutiny on construction site safety is partly the result of 12 worker deaths in 2015, according to the New York City Buildings Department. The numbers climbed from eight fatalities in 2014, and 2016 is not looking much better. Yet in actuality, the fatalities may be worse than what is reported.
Deaths and injuries are worse than the numbers show
It has been shown that the New York City Buildings Department does not investigate or even count all construction deaths. Many go unnoted in the city’s official count because they are considered non-construction related. Crain’s New York Business recently reported several examples of uncounted fatalities. Apparently, some deaths are never counted or looked into because they are not considered a threat to public safety.
With the concern about skewed numbers, it is difficult to track and understand why construction deaths and injuries are occurring. Tracking is made even more difficult when business records are inadequate and corporations frequently change names. If data on construction injuries and deaths were more comprehensive, it might be easier to hold companies responsible for worker safety.
Cutting corners increases chances for worker injuries
Some workers are missing basic safety steps at their workplaces. Some companies hire undocumented immigrant workers at low wages. These workers may be unsupervised, poorly trained and non-union. Construction workers should not shoulder the high cost and pain of work injuries.
When workplace injuries result from an employer’s neglect of safety, employees can file a third-party personal injury claim. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney can make an enormous difference.