According to Politico New York, there were 283 construction injuries in New York City in the 2015 fiscal year. That number is up from 2011 in fiscal year 2014, and shows a steady increase from previous years. As the amount of construction work being done in New York City continues to rise, so do the construction accident numbers.
There were 11 fatalities in fiscal year 2015, which is up from six the previous year. As we look at the rise in accidents, it is easy to wonder what the corporate responsibility is in all of this. However, there are also measures the city could be taking to stop habitual offenders.
Impaled Construction Worker Fall In Flatiron
According to the New York Daily News, a construction worker in the Flatiron District fell down an elevator shaft that was 50 feet deep. The man was impaled on a steel rebar that was sticking up from concrete that was on the building’s floor. Witnesses say that the worker was suspended one foot over the basement floor by the rebar, and his head had experienced tremendous trauma. The emergency workers were astounded that the worker survived.
While the worker’s story is disturbing, what is equally disturbing is that the same property was fined twice in one month by the City Building Department for unsafe working conditions near their elevator shafts. The contractor was also hit with over $19,000 in fines that were eventually negotiated down to $12,000 before being paid. The contractor was guilty of creating unsafe working conditions at other work sites. The pattern was easy to see, but it seems to have been ignored.
Are Fines Enough?
City and OSHA fines do not seem to work as deterrents to habitual safety offenders. The worker in the Flatiron District fall was the victim of working conditions that were designated as dangerous, but never corrected. Instead of correcting the working conditions, the contractor simply paid the fines. The same can be said for the OSHA fines that amounted to $12,000 for other sites run by the same contractor in the city. The fines were paid, and workers were still injured.
If fines are not discouraging contractors from utilizing dangerous behavior, then what will? In the past, the City Buildings Department has suspended contractors from working if they commit persistent safety violations, but those instances are few in number. The other issue is hitting a contractor with a $1,000 and the $1,500 fine for what is obviously a very dangerous situation. Does the fine fit the crime? After a worker fell 50 feet onto steel rebar because the working conditions were never corrected, it has to be asked if the fines themselves are steep enough to discourage dangerous working conditions.
Protecting Yourself On A New York City Construction Site
Construction workers do their jobs to provide for their families and not to suffer horrible injuries while in service to the company. If you work in construction in New York City, then you should be mindful of situations that could create dangerous working conditions. If a job does not start with a safety training session, then you should insist that it does. If you know that working conditions are dangerous, then point that out to a supervisor.
New York City construction workers can do themselves a favor and become knowledgeable about the safety laws in the city. Both the City Building Department and OSHA are inspecting work sites and handing out fines. You can help your company to avoid being fined by pointing out safety issues and recommending solutions.
No one wants to get injured while at work, and that is especially true when that injury is due to the negligence of someone else. Construction workers in New York City are facing increasingly dangerous working conditions that are resulting in a sharp rise in the number of construction injuries and deaths. By being vigilant and insisting on taking the right safety measures, workers can protect themselves and their co-workers, while also helping the company to avoid thousands of dollars in fines.