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Union status of sites tracked in construction fatalities

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The number of construction site accidents in New York City doubled between 2014 and last year, according to city government figures. The 471 injuries that occurred last year was approximately twice that from the previous year. The number of people reported killed on construction sites by the city rose from eight in 2014 to 12 in 2015.

Now the chairman of the city’s Committee on Housing and Buildings is asking the city to start noting in its data on fatalities whether the site was union or nonunion. Chairman Jumaane Williams is hoping that this added data will improve safety for construction workers.

In the competitive New York City construction industry, contractors, developers and city officials acknowledge that balancing worker safety with efficient building development is an imperfect science.

Although some argue that workers are safer on union-run sites, there’s no clear data to back that up. Williams says that including data about whether workers were killed on union or nonunion sites “may actually be helpful in finding out what’s actually going on…[and] who’s safe and who isn’t.”

Interestingly, the federal government tracks fatalities on construction sites differently than the city does. The city’s Department of Buildings number of 12 deaths last year is five below the 17 fatalities recorded by the federal government.

That’s because the city only lists fatalities that involve a city construction code violation that could impact public safety, without regard to worker safety. That means that five of the deaths last year weren’t investigated by the city.

Obviously, the more we know about the circumstances and the entities involved in construction accidents, the more that safety can be improved for construction workers on all sites. When victims of construction accidents or surviving loved ones pursue legal action, an experienced New York construction accident attorney will work to determine which individuals and companies should be held liable.

Source: The Real Deal, “Council committee wants city to record data on accidents at union, nonunion sites,” Jumaane Williams, accessed Nov. 10, 2016

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.