Early in the morning on July 26, 2023, a fire broke out on a construction site in Manhattan, eventually leading to a crane collapsing from high above onto the city streets. Twelve people, including several construction workers, were injured.
Although they probably don’t feel like it, they were lucky. All of the injuries were described as “not life-threatening,” so the incident could have been far worse. In fact, the odds of dying in a construction accident in New York have been steadily rising.
The national fatality rate dropped, but New York’s rate rose
According to the latest by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), 12.1 construction workers out of every 100,000 in the state died in work-related accidents in 2021, which is a 9% increase over the death rate in 2020. By comparison, the nationwide average for on-the-job construction worker deaths was only 9.4 per 100,000 in 2021, which is a decrease of 2.2% over 2020’s death rate.
The situation is even more grim when looking at New York City alone. For construction workers here, the fatality rate has gone up by a whopping 60% between 2020 and 2021 alone – and that’s despite efforts to force property owners and construction companies to do better.
Carlos’ Law, for example, recently raised the fines for employers who are found criminally negligent in a worker’s death. In misdemeanor cases, the fine went from a mere $5,000 to a minimum of $300,000, while felony-level fines went from just $10,000 to a minimum of $500,000 – with the overall goal being to hurt the wallets of companies that want to prioritize profits over worker safety.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many construction companies and developers know that safety inspections are hampered by a lack of funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, so many act with impunity – until someone dies.
If you have been injured in a construction accident or a loved one was killed in this way, workers’ compensation is not your only option for financial recovery. New York has unique laws that make it possible to pursue a personal injury claim over a construction accident, which can provide your family with the financial stability it may need after incurring such a loss. Consider seeking legal guidance for additional clarity and support.