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construction workers from heights
31 January 2018

Report Claims New York State Construction Fatalities Highest Since 2002

construction workers from heights

According to a report by a union-backed group called the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, there were more construction deaths in the state of New York in 2016 than any year since 2002. In 2016, the most recent year with full data available, 71 construction workers died in work-related accidents. This marks a significant jump from 2015, in which 55 workers were killed in construction-related accidents.

Why Have NYC Deaths Dropped While NY State Deaths Rise?

While construction deaths throughout the state of New York are on the rise, construction deaths in New York City dropped from 25 in 2015 to 21 in 2016. Some believe this drop is related to an increased focus on safety regulations by city officials with the Department of Buildings. The state of New York has no such agency tasked with overseeing safety regulations on construction sites.

Additionally, cuts in funding to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency tasked with completing safety inspections at construction sites, also may have contributed to this spike in fatal construction accidents. New York City’s Department of Buildings has picked up the slack from these cuts by conducting their own inspections, but other parts of the state which lack a Department of Buildings have had no way to bridge the gap.

Who Is At Fault For Construction Worker Injuries And Deaths?

Construction unions and worker safety advocates agree – the vast majority of fatal construction accidents are preventable. So who is liable for these avoidable tragedies? In many cases, property owners and construction companies share the blame for failing to provide their workers with the necessary equipment and training to keep them safe on the job. If these parties fulfilled their duty to strictly enforce safety regulations, a lack of federal funding and local oversight agencies likely wouldn’t matter. But because of this lack of oversight, many property owners and construction employers cut corners in order to boost their profits, at the expense of the people who help keep their businesses running.

Under New York’s scaffolding law, property owners and contractors bear total liability for any construction accident involving the following equipment:

  • Scaffolding
  • Ladders
  • Hoists
  • Stays
  • Slings
  • Hangers
  • Blocks
  • Pulleys
  • Braces
  • Irons
  • Ropes

Can Construction Workers & Their Families Sue For Preventable Injuries And Deaths?

No family should have to deal with the tragedy of losing a loved one in an easily avoidable workplace accident. These workers are often aware of the dangers they face on the job and aware of the fact that their employers are neglecting their responsibility to keep their workers safe. But at the end of the day, we all have to do what it takes to pay our bills and provide for our families.

While the state and employers might continue to neglect worker safety, the legal system provides an option for recourse for injured construction workers and the families of those killed on the job. This is often “too little, too late”, but taking legal action against employers and property owners can help provide the financial support these families need, along with demanding changes so that other families don’t have to suffer from the same trauma in the future.

If your family has found yourselves in this tragic situation, the construction injury lawyers at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus, and Moverman want to help. In a free consultation, we can help you determine if you have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent parties responsible for the construction accident. Get in touch with us today to learn more about your legal rights and begin your fight for justice.