Construction workers continue to die unnecessary deaths. Worker fatalities are increasing in the state of New York, according to the 2018 "Deadly Skyline" report released by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH). The report referred to this trend as a crisis, and rightly so.
While some inroads have been made in New York City due to somewhat tighter laws and greater advocacy for workers, a statewide construction death record was broken in 2016. An astonishing 71 workers were killed in the state in that one year alone.
Several key takeaways can be gleaned from the NYCOSH report, which we encourage readers to look at in detail:
- Most construction fatalities occurred on non-union sites: The vast majority of deadly accident victims didn't have the protection and support of a union. An analysis of 2016 OSHA fatality investigations showed that nearly all the fatalities in New York State (94.7 percent) and New York City (93.8 percent) on private work sites involved non-union workers.
- Almost half the fatalities were falls: The report indicated that falls represented the largest area -- 48 percent -- of all New York State construction deaths over the recent 10-year period studied. The New York City figure was very similar (46 percent). In all, 218 workers were killed in falls over a decade.
- Fines remain meager: Disturbingly, while laws have improved and enforcement may be trending upward (in the city at least), OSHA fines issued against unsafe owners and contractors have no teeth. The report indicates an average fine of $20,000 in fatality cases -- an insignificant amount for developers and contractors with deep pockets.
- OSHA isn't effective enough due to funding: OSHA is dramatically underfunded and cannot keep workers safe in its present state of functioning. In 2017, the number of OSHA inspections was about 62 percent lower than in 1986. We are regressing.
What to do if you or a family member is hurt or killed
You may be entitled to significant money damages if you or your family has experienced the devastating effects of a construction accident. Make sure you talk to an attorney about your legal rights as soon possible.