The deadliest industry in New York is becoming even more dangerous with injuries caused by construction accidents increasing a hefty 221 percent in the last five years. According to CBS New York, deaths in the construction industry alone increased by 33 percent in the same time period. Just last month, three New York construction workers died while on the job. In SoHo, a worker was crushed by a crane. The other two workers died from falling debris at their worksite.
According to the local news station, there are two primary causes of the increase in workplace injuries. First, New York City is experiencing a construction boom. Gary Labarbera, President of NYTC Building and Construction Trades Council, told CBS News that despite a “busy, robust construction market… there shouldn’t be anywhere near this many fatalities.” The second (and related) reason involves contractors who are “willing to underbid to the job” and then “cut corners everywhere they can find,” says bricklayer Jerry Gozdyra. Unfortunately, these contractors and construction companies often undercut the safety of their workers. “It’s always been a dangerous profession, but deadlines and pressure from when you [have to] get [the work] done sometimes cause you to take risks. If you’re given the time and proper equipment you have a better chance of working safely,” masonry restoration specialist Christine Azzoli told the local news channel.
According to CBS New York, approximately 45,000 New Yorkers work in the construction industry and an estimated 25 percent of construction sites are not in compliance with safety regulations. The Department of Buildings, responsible for overseeing the construction industry in the five boroughs, says the city agency is inspecting job sites and issuing fines as quickly as possible. “We’ve dedicated over the last two weeks 90 inspectors on 12-hour shifts,” Tim Hogan, deputy commissioner of enforcement for Department of Buildings, told the newspaper. According to Hogan, this resulted in 5,000 construction sites inspected in the previous two weeks. According to him, violations are dealt with harshly. Whenever the Department of Buildings finds workers with insufficient training or counterfeit training certificates, the agency issues a $5,000 fine.
These fines are “putting pressure on contractors that they need to comply with safety regulations,” Hogan told CBS New York. With three fatalities in the construction industry in just last month, results from the increased enforcement efforts and fines cannot come soon enough.