The most recent New York City construction fatality report has workers, advocates and government officials calling for increased worker training and stronger regulations to help curb the number of injuries and fatalities.
The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) report, “Deadly Skyline: An Annual Report on Construction Fatalities in New York State,” found employers routinely violate worksite safety regulations, NYC construction fatality rates are on an upward trend and Latino construction workers die at disproportionately high rates. In the past two years, 30 workers have died at NYC construction sites and 464 have died in the last decade, it states.
“We need to take action now to end the crisis of rising construction fatalities in New York State,” said Charlene Obernauer, executive director of NYCOSH, to EHS Today. “These deaths are almost always preventable and occur on non-union job sites 80 percent of the time. Latino workers compose the majority of fall fatalities – 57 percent in 2015 – and there is a strong correlation between employers who steal workers’ wages and who force workers to work under unsafe conditions.”
The organization calls for legislation increasing construction worker training, like OSHA 10 training for workers on all construction sites regardless of size, and requiring apprenticeship programs on large construction sites to combat the fatal injury rate, which has risen almost 40 percent between 2011 and 2015.
EHS Today reports Mayor Bill de Blasio supports more enforcement of safety laws and higher fines for violations of them, but sees the apprenticeship requirement as a possible undue burden on smaller and non-union contractors.