Construction sites are inherently dangerous, and falls are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the industry. That’s why it is essential for construction companies to provide their workers with fall protection equipment and follow the safety standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Unfortunately, some companies prioritize profits over their safety, and the consequences can be deadly.
eness campaigns, falls remain the number one cause of death in the construction industry.
In an innovative study recently published by the Center for Construction Research and Planning (CPWR), the authors, Grace Barlet, Rosa Greenberg and Jessica Bunting tried to understand why, despite all the efforts, 353 construction workers died from fall in the US in 2020.
A total of 5 construction workers lost their life on the job in New York City between April 1st and June 31st . Since 2015, this is only the second time that construction fatalities recorded by the NYC Department of Buildings during the second quarter reached such a high number. The other time was in 2019. 2 fatalities occurred in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan, one in the Bronx and one in Queens. 3 of the fatalities were falls and two were related to mechanical construction equipment. The last two weeks of May were particularly deadly. On May 19th, at around 8:20 am, two workers were cleaning debris on the 5th floor of a construction site located at 20 Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx. They loaded a new elevator car with the debris, got in the car with the debris and proceeded to head downstairs. The elevator had a mechanical failure and the car fell from the fifth floor. One of the workers was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and the second was injured and transported to the hospital. Three days later in Queens, a deadly accident occurred when two workers were instructed to use an extension ladder from the sixth floor chimney shaft to the roof. One of the workers said he heard a “crush sound” as he was at the second or third step of the ladder and turned around, he didn’t see anything so he kept going and took the ladder by himself to the roof. His colleague was found dead almost two hours later on the second floor. He had fell in an elevator shaft. 5 days later on May 27th, a hard hat who was working on a roof during a demolition job, fell to his death at a construction site located at 1045 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Two other workers died earlier in April, one of them came in contact with a live wire and was fatally electrocuted on a Manhattan construction site located at 555 West 22nd Street and the other one fell to his death from a dangerous scaffolding installation at a construction site located at East 53rd Street in Brooklyn. These recent fatalities were so alarming that the DOB organized a massive sweep of all major construction sites in the city and temporarily closed hundreds of them for not respecting safety standards. (see previous blog).
Falls remain the number one cause of fatal construction accidents in New York City. Again during Q2, 3 of the 5 fatalities were fall. Most of the time fall fatalities are the result of negligence by the contractor and could have been prevented. Fatalities often occur on sites that have a history of violations and complaints, for example, the construction site located at 1200 East 53rd Street in Brooklyn has so far recorded a total of 30 complaints, 50 DOB Violations including 8 open and 40 OATH/ECB violations including an open one for failing to notify the DOB after the death of the worker. A stop work order is still active at this location. The site located at 45-18 Court Square in Queens previously logged in 53 complaints, 54 DOB violations including 3 open and 39 OATH/ECB violations including 11 open. Before the deadly accident occurred at this site, the contractor was fined for failing to safeguard all persons and property affected by construction operations. This violation is still open. The same goes for the site located at 1045 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn which as of Today has a stop work order with 20 OATH/ECB violations open, most of them of the highest severity. Hard hats working on construction sites that are unsafe have a much higher risk to die in a construction accident.
The number of construction workers injured on the job was a little lower than usual during the second quarter. A total of 144 workers suffered injury in construction accidents in New York City during the 3-month period of April, May, June 2021 compared to respectively, 68, 150, 233, 170, 171 and 134 during the same period of 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015. Last year the numbers were lower because of the Covid19 lockdown and we can not compare them to any other year. Manhattan had the most injuries, followed by Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.
In 2019, among the 1,061 construction workers fatalities recorded in the US by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 401 of them were caused by falls. Most of these accidents could have been prevented if adequate safety measures were in place. Many fall fatalities could be avoided by following these 5 basic rules:
- Always use fall protection if you are working at 6 feet or more
Despite safety regulations and awareness campaigns falls continue to be the number one cause of deaths and injuries among construction workers. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, among the 1008 construction worker fatalities recorded nationally in 2018, 320 were fall fatalities.
To continue raising awareness about the risks of fall, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is partnering with multiple construction safety advocates and governmental organizations such as the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the U.S. Navy to educate as many construction workers as possible on fall safety.
Any companies involved in construction can participate in the Stand-Down 2021 and will receive a certificate of participation if they do so
A hard hat died after he fell from the 16th floor at a construction site in Manhattan. The 52 year old worker was a unionized sheet metal worker who had been with Local 28 for 24 years. He was doing doing some work at the NYU Ambulatory Care Center located on 41st Street between Third and Second Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The Medical Center is open to patients but some construction is still going on inside and outside. The DOB told the media that the fall was not related to the construction going on inside the building. The worker arrived at the Medical Center at 6:30 am last Friday morning and went to the back of the building and took a hoist elevator that runs at the exterior of the building. Two hours later the man fell and was found lying dead on the ground at the back of the building. The DOT is still investigating the exact cause of the accident.
Eric Meslin, Sheet Metal Workers Local 28 president and business manager told the News “I worked with him personally back when we had tools on. He was a good guy to be around,” Meslin said. “He had a big personality. It’s hitting our members hard.”
Falls are the number one cause of construction workers fatalities. Last year among the 8 construction workers fatalities reported by the New York City Department of Buildings, 4 of them were falls. (see previous blog)
Falls in construction are the main cause of construction worker deaths and injuries. In the US, every year around 200 workers die and 10,000 suffer personal injury after they fell on a construction site.
To prevent and reduce fall accidents, every year since 2012, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are joining forces annually for a one week national campaign asking construction workers and their supervisors all over the nation to conduct a stand down focusing on fall prevention.
During a stand down, workers pause work and participate in discussions or activities related to fall prevention and safety policies
Fall is the number one cause of death for construction workers. Every year in America, 10,000 construction workers suffer serious injuries and 200 die in fall accidents. To raise awareness about this problem, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) are organizing a yearly national campaign: The National Safety Stand-Down. The event lasts several days during which every construction company owner is invited to spend a day or at least a few hours with their employees to review fall safety protection. Thousands of construction companies are participating every year reaching millions of construction workers.
This year the event was supposed to be organized in May but many construction businesses were shut down because of the Covid-19 crisis. Therefore the 7th National Safety Stand-Down to prevent Falls has been moved to the 14th to 18th of September 2020.
For this year, the organizers suggest that the event be held virtually or that companies owners make sure that construction workers social distance during the stand-down. Video and webinar might be a good way to keep the stand-down safe for all.
Since 2011 the number of construction workers who died in a fall accident increased by 45% according to the recent report “Trends of Fall Injuries and Prevention in the Construction Industry” released by the The Center for Construction Research and Training.
The report focuses mostly on data from 2011 to 2017 and found that despite a slow down in construction accident fatalities between 2016 and 2017, the number of deaths related to fall accidents continued to rise. 389 construction workers fell to their death in 2017 compared to 388 in 2016.
Among the 389 fall fatalities, 367 were to a lower level. Falls from roofs are the most common and account for approximately one third of the fall fatalities. Falls from ladders are the second most common causes of fall fatalities and account for approximately a quarter of them. All in all falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds account for more than 70% of all falls to a lower level.
The leading cause of construction workers deaths are falls. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a brochure with information on how employers and construction workers can better prevent fall injuries and deaths. Every year in the US more than 31o workers die and more than 10,350 are injured after falling from heights. Workers on roofs, workers on ladders and workers on scaffolds have the highest risk of getting injured in a fall. According to statistics from the US Department of Labor, in 2016, 124 workers died after falling from a roof, 104 of them died after falling from a ladder and 60 of them died after falling from a scaffold.
Roofers have the most dangerous occupation
81% of people dying after falling from a roof are construction workers. Most common factors contributing to this fatal accidents are inexperience, lack of fall protection, no safety harness, fall protection system not proprely installed, working alone, bad weather conditions. Falls can be prevented by implementing a serious fall protection program, making sure workers all have proper safety equipment and are proprely trained to use it,inspecting fall equipment, using proper anchorage, using buddy system and monitoring weather conditions