NYC construction fatalities decline in 2020 but industry retains its leading deadly status

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The loss of more than 30,000 construction jobs in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic had one positive outcome: An even greater percentage decline in the number of fatal work injuries. However, construction retained the dubious status as the city’s most deadly occupation.

The federal Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that there were 13 fatal construction injuries in 2020, a decline from 24 the previous year. There were a total of 59 fatal injuries across all industries.

The data indicates that a small majority (eight) of the fatalities occurred among workers employed by speciality trade contractors. Five construction industry deaths in 2020 resulted from falls, slips and trips.

Significantly, 79 percent of construction site deaths involved non-union workers, the Commercial Observer (CO) reported, citing a recent report from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.

In one incident near the end of 2020, a construction worker in Brooklyn died after a brick wall in the back yard of a Sunset Park home collapsed, The Real Deal reported.

“The 10-foot retention wall at 454 42nd Street fell on two workers, one of whom was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Jashim Mia, 39, was later identified as the victim. Inadequate shoring along the wall caused it to crumble, the Department of Buildings found.”

Hispanic and Latino workers made up 39 percent of NYC’s workplace deaths, significantly higher than the 23 percent of workplace deaths they accounted for across the country. White workers accounted for 31 percent of city workplace deaths and Black workers for 19 percent.

Overall, 4,764 workers died on the job across the country in 2020, the lowest yearly total since 2013. This represents an 11 percent drop from 5,333 in 2019.

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