According to the New York City Department of Buildings, there were 645 reported construction accidents in the five boroughs in 2017. More than 60% of those accidents took place in Manhattan.
NYC Construction Accident Injuries and Fatalities
The 645 reported construction accidents resulted in 666 injuries and 12 fatalities. Although the number of construction site deaths remained the same year-over-year, both accidents and injuries increased significantly over 2016.
- From 2016 to 2017, NYC construction accidents increased 8.7% – from 593 accidents in 2016 to 645 in 2017
- During the same period, construction injuries in the city increased 11.5% – from 597 to 666
Although the number of accidents and injuries increased, the most common causes of injuries remained stable.
The Most Common Causes of 2017 Construction Injuries and Deaths
The three most common causes of construction site injuries were:
- Workers falling
- Materials falling
- Mechanical construction equipment
These three causes accounted for more than 48% of NYC construction site injuries in 2017 and 49.5% in 2016. Worker falls were by far the leading cause of injury, making up about 26% of construction-related injuries in 2017 and 28.6% in 2016.
Worker falls were the leading cause of construction fatalities in both years, but the balance shifted. In 2016, 50% of NYC constructions deaths resulted from worker falls. One year later, falls accounted for 75% of fatalities. It is worth noting, however, that the number of fatalities was small. The 50% figure represents six out of 12 fatalities in 2016, while the 75% figure represents nine out of 12 in 2017.
The more significant shift in construction worker fatalities relates to mechanical construction equipment accidents. Mechanical equipment accidents claimed the lives of four construction workers in 2016, but none in 2017.
The Most Dangerous Boroughs for Construction Workers
Manhattan led the boroughs in every respect:
- 400 of the 645 NYC construction accidents in 2017 occurred in Manhattan
- 407 of the 666 injuries took place in Manhattan
- Seven of the 12 fatalities occurred in Manhattan
Brooklyn and Queens posted the second and third most accidents, injuries, and deaths respectively. While the Bronx and Staten Island are a distant fourth and fifth, Bronx saw significant increases in both accidents and injuries in 2017. Accidents more than doubled, from 17 to 37, while injuries spiked from 17 to 38. Staten Island remained near-stable, increasing from 11 to 13 in both categories.
Why is New York So Dangerous for Construction Workers?
In part, the risks to construction workers in NYC, particularly in Manhattan, may be attributable to a high rate of construction activity and the nature of the buildings and geography in the heart of the city. But, many have suggested that the problem runs deeper. In recent years, building permits have increased while the number of OSHA inspectors statewide has decreased significantly. In the fall of 2017, the New York City Council adopted regulations requiring workers on most NYC construction sites to undergo at least 40 hours of safety training.
However, the pace doesn’t appear to have slowed. In the first month of 2018, the city saw 57 construction accidents, 56 injuries, and two deaths. Those numbers are particularly significant because—due in large part to winter weather—January accident and injury counts are usually quite a bit lower than summer numbers. For example, in 2017 there were 38 injuries in January, as compared with 85 in June and 73 in July.
Injured Construction Workers Have Rights
If you’ve been injured on a construction site, you may be entitled to damages in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. While you may be unable to sue your employer, construction site accidents are often attributable—at least in part—to third parties. Possible responsible parties include site owners, general contractors, and other contractors sharing the site with your company.