2 construction workers died and 79 were injured on the job in New York City during the first two months of 2021. One fatality occurred in Staten Island and the other one in Manhattan. In both cases the worker fell. Last year, only one worker died in NYC construction accidents over the first 2 months of the year and the year before, no fatalities were recorded during the same period. Since 2015, the number of construction worker fatalities during the first two months of the year varied between 0 and 2. Among the 79 workers injured, 41 of them were injured in fall accidents. (click on graphs for full size)
Falls remain the most common cause of fatalities for construction workers in New York City. The two fatal accidents that occurred in February were falls. Both accidents could have been prevented if adequate safety measures had been in place. The first accident took place on a construction site located at 730 5th Avenue in Manhattan. The worker who died was cleaning an area where a permanent building trash chute was being installed. He stepped on a hole cover that snapped and gave way. The worker fell to the floor below. He was transported to the hospital where he died from his injuries. The second fatal accident occurred at 144 Dunham Street in Staten Island. A roofer fell from the roof and did not survive the injuries he sustained during the fall. The inspectors found that the working permit for the construction site had expired. Multiple safety infractions were found at the site and the DOB issued a full stop work order for failure to safeguard persons and property. Roofers have the highest rate of fatalities among all categories of construction workers.
79 construction workers were injured in New York City during the first two months of the year. This is the lowest number of workers injured during the first two months of the year since 2017. 48 of these accidents took place in Manhattan, 14 in Brooklyn, 11 in Queens, 4 in the Bronx and 1 in Staten Island.
Among the 79 workers injured, 41 of them were injured in fall related accidents. 31 injuries were classified as “other”. These types of injuries are usually minor such as small cuts or abrasions and in approximately half of the cases do not require a visit from a DOB inspector. Injuries classified as “other” but resulting in ECB violations are often more serious and their classification in the “other” category is somewhat questionable. For example, on the 4th of January, two workers were injured by debris after a staircase collapsed. In another case a worker fell from a ladder. That is a fall accident but the DOB classified it as “other”. A worker got injured while erecting a scaffold and the injury was classified in the “other” category as well”. Another worker had his hand crushed by a panel that was improperly lifted. Again this accident seems to be caused by falling material but was categorized as “other”. The “other” category also includes struck by accidents. Struck by accidents are so common in the construction industry that they should have their own category.
Manhattan is the borough that had the most construction accident fatalities and injuries during the first two months of 2021. 1 worker died in February. Over the last 12 months 3 hard hats died in Manhattan. Compared to previous years, the number of construction fatalities declined in Manhattan. This decline occurred as construction activity significantly slowed down because of the Covid19 crisis. Up until 2019, the trend in Manhattan construction fatalities was on the rise but as of Today, it is perfectly flat.
Manhattan construction accident injuries are on a declining trend. 28 workers were injured on construction sites in this borough in February and 20 in January compared to respectively 27 and 44 a year earlier. Fall injuries were the most common and among them falls from A frame ladders and scaffolding were the most common.
Brooklyn had the second highest number of injuries with 15 hard hats injured in the first two months of 2021. Among them, 6 were injured in falls. All these accidents could have been prevented if adequate safety was in place to protect workers. In every case of fall injuries, ECB violations were issued. Despite a slowdown, Brooklyn hard hat injuries remain on the rise and most of them are the result of negligence.
11 workers were injured in Queens during the two first months of the year compared to respectively 10, 11, 16, 6, 6 and 7 for the same period of 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 nd 2015. Except for a surge in 2018, construction accidents injuries have been stable in Queens. Again, most injuries could have been prevented if workers had been provided with adequate safety equipment.
4 workers were injured while working on Bronx construction sites during the months of January and February 2021. Among the injuries, a worker lost a nail during a rebar operation and another one suffered a cut on his hand during a window delivery operation. In both cases, the sites were issued violations for inadequate safety including for both of them no pre-shift safety meetings. Pre-shift safety meetings are an important step during which workers are informed about the nature and the potential risks and safety concerns of their task.
One worker died in a Staten Island construction accident. Since 2015 only one hard hat died in Staten Island. That was in October 2015. Staten Island has the lowest number of hard hat deaths among all New York boroughs. As mentioned above, the worker was a roofer who was working on a site that was unsafe and his death was preventable.
While looking at worker deaths and injuries by type of accidents, falls remain the number one cause of injuries and death in the construction industry in New York City. Both fatalities occurring in February were falls and both could have been prevented if workers were adequately protected.
A total of 41 workers were injured after falling on construction sites in NYC during the first two months of the year compared to respectively 31, 23, 27,30, 19, 22 and 14 in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015. This record number of fall fatalities and injuries occurred despite new regulations requiring every construction worker to follow safety training. The problem is in that many instances they are not given proper training. The inclement weather conditions were a factor in several fall injuries during which workers fell and slipped on icy grounds.
4 hard hats were injured in accidents caused by the fall of material. Most of the accidents caused minor injuries except for one during which a painter was crushed by a large sliding door panel that had been dislodged. The worker suffered two broken ribs and a broken spine. When the DOB inspected the site they found that the work permit was expired and that that safety measures to protect persons and property were not adequate.
2 workers were injured in scaffolding accident according to the DOB. In the first accident, a baker scaffold collapsed after a carpenter working on it attempted to move it by holding onto the ceiling and pulling it across the room. The worker was not certified to work on the scaffold and no safety measures had been implemented.
In the other accident, a worker on a supported pipe scaffolding fell 8 feet. Inspectors found that the scaffolding was not proprely maintained and no safety measures had been implemented to protect the worker. The worker suffered back and neck injuries.
One worker was injured while doing foundation work. A rebar mat that was being laid by the worker gave way causing the nail of the worker’s index finger to come off. Again there were no adequate safety measures on the site.
31 injuries were classified as “other”. This is more than a third of the construction accident injuries. The DOB could do a better job of identifying the type of these injuries as many could indeed be part of one of the above categories. Among them were falls from ladders which are usually classified as falls, a significant number of falling debris and falling material accidents which probably should be classified in the material fall accidents, scaffolding accidents and a significant numbers of struck by accidents which would deserve the creation of an additional category. In order to prevent future accidents, it is important to have a clear vision on accident causes. Classifying a third of the NYC construction accident types as “other” is certainly not helping this vision.