The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has released its second annual New York City Construction Safety Report, providing a comprehensive analysis of safety trends in the five boroughs over the 2021 calendar year.
This 2021 report provides an overview of building construction data, worker incidents, and Department-issued enforcement actions, as the city continues to make strides in supporting a safety-first culture in the construction industry. The report shows that for the third year in a row, building construction-related incidents have declined in our city, even as construction activity has rebounded from a pandemic-related low in 2020.
This report also highlights the nine tragic fatal construction worker incidents that occurred on building work sites across the five boroughs, as well as initiatives launched by the Department to enhance work site safety and protect the public.
“Construction remains a bedrock industry in our growing city, and we owe it to our fellow New Yorkers to continue to push for safer work sites for the benefit of all New Yorkers,” acting DOB Commissioner Constadino “Gus” Sirakis said in a March 28 statement. “For the second year in a row, we are publishing a comprehensive report on building construction safety, so we can better track incidents and understand why they occur. Data analysis like this is a critical part of our strategy to help our industry partners properly safeguard their work sites.”
This 2021 report shows that the multi-year decline in building construction-related incidents in the city has continued in 2021, dropping another 10% compared to 2020, and over 40% since 2018.
While the number of incidents has continued to decrease, worker injuries and fatalities related to building construction activity saw slight increases in 2021 compared to the previous year. Of note, these slight increases coincided with significant increases in construction activity citywide, including an almost 14% percent increase in permit issuance, and an over 30% increase in new construction floor area when compared to 2020, when the first waves of the pandemic shut down much of the city, and non-essential construction was paused for a significant portion of the calendar year.
In previous years, the department has seen a correlation between the amount of total citywide construction activity and the number of related work site incidents and injuries.
This decline in construction-related incidents, beginning in 2019, was the first such decrease in almost 10 years, and coincides with changes in DOB regulations, including mandatory site safety training for workers on larger work sites, increased proactive construction inspection protocols at the department, and more direct outreach to the construction worker community.
The DOB says in a statement that it “is committed to continuing these enforcement and educational initiatives, while working with our partners to implement new ways to increase accountability and promote safety citywide.”