Construction safety in NYC: Positive news from 2019 and 2020 offset by more recent fatalities

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1200 E. 53rd street
Google Street View image of 1200 East 53rd Street in Brooklyn

A comprehensive safety report from New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) in late July indicates a decline in construction fatalities in the city in 2019 and 2020, but the story from more current data not in the report is much less encouraging.

“A total of five construction workers lost their life on the job in New York City between April 1st and June 31st,” personal injury lawyers Gair Gair Conason reported in a Aug. 25 blog posting. “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 DOB’s construction safety report issued on June 28 “examines department initiatives that led to declines in building construction-related incidents and injuries” in 2019 and 2020.

“The report provides a first-of-its-kind analysis of major building construction incidents in the past two years that led to fatal or near fatal outcomes, with details on contributing factors that precipitated these incidents,” DOB says in a statement. “The report also highlights proactive and data-driven initiatives undertaken by the Department, while bringing awareness to the work of critical department units, changes in construction safety regulations, and recent efforts to modernize the agency. The department also released a progress update on ongoing enforcement inspections sweeps happening now at larger construction sites across the five boroughs, an initiative launched in response to recent construction fatalities that occurred earlier this year.”

Read the 2019-2020 Construction Safety Report

However, the personal injury lawyers reported that falls are the major problem, and some sites have been especially problematic.

“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,” they said.

“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.”

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