Last year’s construction worker fatalities and injuries reported in the NYC DOT “2022 Construction Safety Report” reinforce the importance of the New York Labor Law Section 240, also known as the “scaffold law” or “scaffolding law”, that holds owners and/or general contractors strictly liable for construction workers who suffer injury or died as a result of missing or inadequate safety equipment at elevated work sites.
The report highlights a significant increase in construction activity in 2022 in every neighborhood in New York City, especially in Brooklyn and Staten Island, with an 11% increase in initial permits for new projects and a 122% increase in initial permits for new building projects. The increase in new building permits is attributed to developers obtaining permits before the implementation of the 2022 NYC Construction Codes and the expiration deadline of the 421-a tax program. Additionally, there was a 15% increase in initial demolition permits issued and a 9% increase in the issuance of Final Certificates of Occupancy for completed projects.
The rise in construction activity in the city also led to a rise in accidents, with falls remaining the number one cause of fatalities in the NYC construction industry
In 2022, 11 hard hats died, and 554 were injured in 751 accidents, compared to 9 deaths, 505 injuries, and 712 accidents in 2021. Since 2015, the highest number of fatalities was recorded in 2019 when 14 construction workers died. The highest number of injuries was recorded in 2018 when 759 workers suffered injury in a construction accident in NYC.
Manhattan remains the borough with the highest number of accidents and injured workers, while Brooklyn had the most worker fatalities. Last year, 332 accidents resulting in 255 injuries occurred in Manhattan, compared to 212 and 142 in Brooklyn, 110 and 79 in Queens, 88 and 72 in the Bronx, as well as 9 and 6 in Staten Island. Among the 11 fatalities, 6 occurred in Brooklyn, 2 in Manhattan, 3 in Queens, and 1 in the Bronx.
Nine of the 11 fatalities occurred after the worker fell, and 2 were caused by mechanical equipment. Most of these accidents could have been prevented if proper safety measures were implemented at the construction site.