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Safety lapses contribute to rise in construction injuries

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Safety violations at New York City construction sites are rising, and so too are accidents and injuries.

In the midst of the biggest real estate boom seen in New York City since 2008, the demand for construction in the city is large and continues to grow. However, as the New York Times recently reported, with so many new construction sites going up, safety inspectors are struggling to cope. As a result, safety lapses on New York City construction sites are becoming a major problem and
construction accidents themselves have soared in recent years.

Construction boom

As the economy continues to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, construction in New York City is likewise booming. As the Commercial Observer points out, new building construction permits increased to 2,404 in 2015 compared to 2,035 in 2014. Renovations and demolition work have similarly seen significant increases in recent years.

The rise in construction has led some analysts to conclude that a subsequent rise in construction accidents is somewhat inevitable. However, as the New York Times points out, a closer look at the statistics reveals that construction accidents are outpacing the amount of new construction by a wide margin. In the last fiscal year, for example, permits for new construction projects went up by 11 percent, but the number of workers injured at construction sites soared by 53 percent.

Safety violations

At least part of the problem has to do with the fact that safety inspectors are struggling to keep up with the growing number of construction projects. While the city is planning on hiring an additional 100 inspectors, there are concerns that the increase may not be enough. Furthermore, the number of federal inspectors is currently at its lowest point in years, with just 33 covering all of New York City and a total of 66 for the state as a whole.

With inspectors stretched thin, the risks faced by workers themselves are increasing. For example, Code 91 complaints, which occur when workers are endangered due to site conditions, exceeded 2,000 in 2015, compared with 682 in 2005. The growing number of violations puts workers in danger. Of the seven worker deaths that occurred at New York City construction sites between July and October of last year, for example, five of them involved contractors or subcontractors that had already been fined for safety violations.

Construction injuries

The vast majority of construction injuries and deaths are completely avoidable. Unfortunately, too many contractors and subcontractors fail to take the necessary steps to protect their workers from unnecessary accidents. An accident can cause both short- and long-term hardships, such as steep medical bills, lost income, and possibly a prolonged recovery period. A personal injury attorney can help. By contacting an experienced attorney today, injured workers will have somebody on their side who can help them fight for their rights.

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.