Q: Has a decrease in safety inspections caused an increase in New York construction accident cases? Like a parade of pallbearers, construction workers gathered recently at a non-union construction site carrying black coffin-shaped boxes on their shoulders to insist on better safety measures on New York City’s construction sites. The rally was at least partially in response to the progressive decline in safety inspections and the corresponding jump in construction-related fatalities both in New York City and in New York State as a whole. A recent report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health for the period 2011-2015 found the following pertinent statistical trends:
- NYC construction-related fatalities increased from 17 to 25;
- NYS construction-related fatalities increased from 33 to 55;
- NYS incidents of fatalities or injuries increased from 128 to 435;
- Safety inspections by federal and state authorities decreased 27% (from 2722 to 1966);
- The number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA") inspectors in New York State decreased from 82 to 66;
The report provided another sobering statistic: Every 2 to 3 weeks for the past two years, a construction worker dies in what may have been a preventable accident. In addition to the drop in OSHA inspectors and safety inspections, what else may account for these increases in construction accident injuries and wrongful deaths? According to OSHA data, non-union construction sites may be largely to blame. In 2014, 80% of New York State construction accident fatalities happened on non-union sites. In addition, 93% of the contractors OHSA classified as repeat or “severe violators" in 2015 were non-union. Imagine working on a non-union construction site and suffering a severe injury when your leg is crushed by heavy steel rods. Then, your employer refuses to call an ambulance, drives you directly to the hospital, and reports that you were hurt when you tripped on the street-off-site. That allegedly happened to an ironworker at a non-union site. While most construction injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, it may be possible to pursue a personal injury lawsuit if safety rules were not implemented or ignored. In this situation, third parties such as site owners, general contractors and subcontractors, architects, and equipment manufacturers can be held liable for a worker’s injuries. If you or loved one has been injured in a construction site accident, the construction accident attorneys at Jaroslawicz & Jaros can help you recover financial compensation for your injuries so you can focus on your recovery. Contact us for a free consultation. For over 40 years, we’ve helped injured New Yorkers and those hurt while visiting New York State.