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Articles Tagged with construction accident NYC

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New York Construction workersConstruction workers fatalities and injuries are on the rise in New York City. The boom in construction has lead to a shortage in experienced construction workers and as a result many contractors have been hiring workers with less or little experience without providing them proper safety training.  To reduce the number of injuries and deaths on NYC construction sites and make sure every construction worker is proprely trained about safety, the New York City Council introduced  new legislation “NYC Local Law 196”  that increases the minimum number of training hours for a construction worker to 59 hours.

What does NYC Local Law 196 mean for construction workers and contractors?

NYC Local Law 196 is being implemented in 3 phases

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According to statistics from the NYC Department of Buildings there were no fatalities at New York City construction sites during the first trimester of 2019 compared to 2 during the last trimester of 2018 and 4 during the same period a year ago. A total of 137 construction workers were injured in NYC during the first 3 months of the year compared to 158 during the previous trimester and 174 during the same period a year ago.  From April 1st 2018 to March 31st 2019, 8 construction workers died on the job, compared to 16 for the same period a year earlier. (click on graphs for full size)

Fatalities in the New York City Construction Industry
Among the 137 workers who were injured, 90 of them were working at Manhattan construction sites, 10 at Bronx sites, 23 at Brooklyn sites, 13 at Queens sites and 1 at  a Staten Island construction site.

Construction Accident Injuries NYC by boroughs
Most construction accident fatalities and deaths in New York City occur in Manhattan. Both fatalities and injuries are on a rising trend in Manhattan. However, on a positive note, it is the first time since 2015 that no hard hat death was recorded in Manhattan over a 5 month-period. 25 workers were injured at Manhattan construction sites in both January and March with a spike at 40 in February.

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New York Construction SiteAs part of its yearly Safety Week Campaign, the New York City Department of Buildings will deploy 90 safety inspectors throughout the city to inspect construction sites and educate construction workers about safety. This year the inspectors will emphasize the new Local Law 196 compliance and distribute written material in various languages. The inspectors will have various backgrounds and will come from the Department’s newly created Construction Safety Compliance and Construction Safety Enforcement units, the Cranes and Derricks Unit, the Scaffold Safety Unit, and the Special Operations Unit.

5000 construction site visit in one week

The inspectors will not only promote safety by distributing flyers but will also effectuate regular safety sweeps and take necessary actions if needed. If the construction sites visited do not comply with safety standards, contractors and developers could face up to $25 k penalties and even see their construction site temporary closed if the lives of the construction workers are being endangered. The DOB inspectors will visit approximately 5000 sites between May 6 and 10.

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harness safety equipment on scaffoldOn April 28th, Workers Memorial Day commemorated those who have suffered and died on the job. The NY construction industry accounts for a large share of the deaths and injuries suffered by workers. While fatal construction accidents have declined by 23% in New York City over the last 5 years they increased by 39% in New York State. The main reason behind this discrepancy is the difference in regulations. While stronger regulations and an increase of enforcement and control could help reduce the construction safety crisis in New York State, businesses are heavily lobbying against them.

In New York City things are not perfect either ( 3 construction workers died over a one week period last month) but long term statistics indicate that new and old policies are helping in making construction sites safer for workers. In 2019 the funding for the New York City Department of Buildings increased to 189 million compared to 107 million in 2015. The Department was able to hire 700 more employees and increase the number of work-site inspections.  The recent implementation of Local Law 196 that requires all construction workers to have a minimum amount of safety training before being able to work on a construction site in New York City will also be helpful in preventing dangerous injury and deaths.

Scaffold Safety Law

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A young construction worker fatally fell from a building in New York City last Wednesday. 23 year old Erik Mendoza was replacing bricks underneath a water tower located on the rooftop of  1 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights when he fell off the building. A Mexican immigrant, Mendoza had arrived in the US 5 years ago.  He had just started his job as a construction worker for the building a week before the accident.

No permit required doesn’t mean no worker protection

The work Mendoza was doing wasn’t didn’t require a permit, however it is the responsibility of the employer to make sure that employees effectuate their work in safe conditions. As he was working under the water tower with a colleague, he slipped and fell 13 stories, landing in front of the entrance of the luxury co-op pre-war building.

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NYC Construction AccidentThe DOB recently released the presentations made at  last year’s Build Safe/Live Safe Conference. Among them,  “Construction Safety, Year in Review, Recent and Upcoming Changes” by Timothy Hogan and Patrick Wehle reviews and documents with pictures every fatal and near miss construction accident that occurred in New York City in 2017. Among the 12 fatalities, 1 worker died from electrocution and 11 died in falls that could have been prevented by following safety guidelines. In all 11 accidents, workers either weren’t wearing a harness or were wearing it but it wasn’t tied off proprely or not at all.

Near Misses resulting in serious injuries

The presentation also highlights 6 near misses that resulted in serious injuries for workers. These accidents were completely avoidable, related to the decision of the contractor and required extensive rescue operations. In one of the accidents a crane that was illegally modified dropped a 15,000 pound shearing hammer on a construction worker’s leg. Two accidents were related to a floor collapsing on workers because of overload. A shoring failure caused 6 workers to be caught in a collapse of 12+ yards of concrete. A small crane overturned after a stressed out operator failed to deploy the outriggers. 6 workers doing demo almost died in a roof collapse.

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construction safety weekNew York Construction Safety Week will take place from May 6 to 10 2019.  During this yearly awareness campaign staff members from the New York City Department of Buildings visit construction sites and promote safety. The week ends with the Build Safe, Live Safe Conference.

The subject of the multilingual campaign is “Experience is not Enough”. The campaign promotes the use of safety equipment especially fall protection. No matter how experienced a construction worker is or how many years he spent in his job, he should always use fall protection. Fall is the number one cause of fatalities in construction sites in New York and in the US. Employers are responsible to provide a safe work environment and prevent workers from falling. Leading edge and floor openings must be protected by guardrails, cable, netting, solid barrier or solid planking. If workers are performing tasks near an unprotected open floor, leading edge or shaft, they are required to wear a safety harness that is proprely connected to an approved anchor point. The campaign will also promote the safe usage of extension cords and the prevention of tripping hazards. Additionally, DOB staff members will provide tips on how to keep a construction site clean and ordered to prevent accidents. Construction workers will also be briefed on how to keep the public safe when walking near a construction site.

A conference to make construction in NYC safer

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construction worker from New York died after a wall collapsed at a Brooklyn construction site last Wednesday. 47 year old Luis Almonte of Innwood was part of a crew of 6 construction workers who were digging into the ground with an excavator at a one-story building located on 39th street. The workers were preparing the ground for the construction of a new manufacturing and healthcare center. As they were digging, a slurry wall suddenly collapsed and buried Almonte.  The FDNY first responders searched for hours through the rubble assisted by a NYPD K9 Unit. A Con Edison truck designed to vacuum debris and soil was also used to assist the crews. The rain was making the search more difficult. The body of Luis Almonte was finally found on Thursday. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The DOB is still investigating the reason for the wall collapse. The construction site had active permits and no complaints or violations.

 

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NYC construction workers The number of construction accident fatalities in New York City recorded by the DOB doubled during the first seven months of 2018 compared to the same period of 2017. The DOB data does not include fatalities from transit and roadway projects, as well as health emergencies, that are not in DOB’s jurisdiction and usually approximately account for an additional third of the DOB numbers. These numbers are usually recorded by OSHA but are not available so far.

8 construction workers died between January 1st 2018 and July 31st 2018. The year before, 4 of them died during the same period of time. Injuries also rose by 17% from 401 to 469 while the total number of construction accidents went up 18.4% from 386 to 457.

Among the 8 workers who died, 4 of them died while working on a Manhattan construction site , 2 of them while working on a Queens site, one of them on a Brooklyn site and one of them on a Bronx site. Sadly most of these deaths might have been prevented if safety rules had been proprely implemented and respected.

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Trinity Grace ChurchA NYC hard had suffered critical injury after he fell from scaffolding at a church construction site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  The man who was employed by 4M Construction was doing brick work on the Trinity Grace Church located at 231 Ainslie Street in Williamsburg. He was on scaffolding when he fell two stories onto the sidewalk shed. The accident occurred Monday afternoon around 2pm.  The emergency responders rescued the man and rushed him to the hospital. A neighbor told the NY Daily News that he previously called 311 because he was worried about the unsafe conditions at the construction site.

Read more in the NY Daily News

Picture of the accident location: courtesy of Google Map