New York City is expanding every single day and currently the construction projects are attracting record amount of investments. However, unfortunately, the contractors are little bothered about the life and safety of the construction workers who are at the core of these massive projects. In last couple of years, New York City has recorded 31 deaths of construction workers. The last fatal accident took place on December 23, 2016 in the Upper East Side of the city where a construction worker fell from the third floor of a building to his death. The victim was reportedly working in a nonunion site just like the other twenty-eight construction workers out of 31 who lost their lives at the construction sites.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio described the deaths of construction workers as a “tragedy” and emphasized on identifying the key causes that led to such fatal accidents. According to some sources, the contractors are least bothered about taking preventive measures and training up their workers which is considered to be one of the major causes for all the fatal accidents.
There are laws that make it mandatory for the contractors to take certain steps that are meant to make work sites safer for the construction workers. However, often these laws are being violated and workers are forced to work in high risk conditions. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible to oversee construction projects to make sure that the safety protocols are being followed. However, the regulators are heavily understaffed. In between 2011 and 2014, the number of permits sanctioned for construction projects jumped by 18 percent whereas the number of OSHA inspectors fell by 13 percent. This is a clear indication that the authority doesn’t have the required manpower to supervise the construction sites which is leading to irregularities like lack of safety standards and training for the construction workers.
Besides the very limited capacity of the regulators to enforce safety measures in construction sites, the minor punishments associated with safety violations are also making things worse. According to sources, nearly 73% of the New York City contractors who were investigated by OSHA in between 2009 and 2014 were found to be guilty of committing at least one serious safety violation.
Unionized construction workers have suffered a significantly smaller number of fatalities at the workplaces as they are well trained and protected by the union. It is the nonunion workers who are suffering the most as contractors pay little attention to their safety. With majority of the workers being foreign born and the accidents remaining undocumented, people seems to be least bothered about all these deaths. It is time for the New Yorkers to be more concerned about the safety and well being of the hardworking construction workers who are building the city, making it greater.