If you count yourself among those who earn a living working at a New York construction site, you may know all too well that aches and pains are frequently part of the job. There is a fine line between work-related stress on your body and serious injuries that can impact or end your entire life, however, and in New York, construction worker fatalities are continuing to rise.
According to Safety + Health, fatal injuries among construction workers have risen since 2016, despite the fact that the number of projects under construction in the state has not. Additionally, safety advocates believe that the uptick in construction worker fatal injuries is the result of “rampant safety violations” that continue to be an issue statewide, and particularly within non-union construction work environments.
Inspections on the decline
You might think that, as a result of the increase in fatal construction worker injuries in New York, the state would ramp up its inspections of construction sites to increase safety, but regrettably, this is far from the case. Instead, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration-conducted inspections of construction sites statewide, with a 62.6 percent decrease occurring between 1986 and 2017. Of the decreasing number of New York construction sites that did undergo OSHA inspections during that time period, safety violations were uncovered at more than 80 percent of them.
A need for change
Safety advocates believe that many New York construction worker injuries and deaths are avoidable, but that some employers simply refuse to follow recommended safety protocols, resulting in preventable deaths. A report recently issued by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that the city do more to punish criminal contractors who endanger worker safety by failing to follow protocols. The report also recommends creating new sources of funding for construction worker safety programs that could help minimize the number of injuries that occur on state construction sites.
While working in construction presents inevitable dangers, your employer has a duty to minimize them and protect you and your coworkers as much as possible.