Why is New York’s construction site death rate on the rise?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Construction Accidents

New York construction workers and their loved ones will be dismayed to learn that the job is becoming deadlier in the state. Data from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) suggests that construction site deaths are increasing dramatically.

According to a recent NYCOSH report that analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 12.1 per 100,000 New York State construction workers died on the job in 2021, a 9 percent increase over the previous year — and a 60 percent leap in New York City alone. Nationwide, the rate of construction fatalities actually dropped 2.2 percent from 2020-21, putting New York against the trend.

Two ways enforcement could improve and prevent construction deaths

NYCOSH blames two factors for this grim news. One was the relatively low maximum fine that a court could impose on a contractor convicted of criminal negligence related to a worker’s death. Thanks to the recently passed Carlos’ Law, the fine went up from $10,000 for felony negligence to $500,000-1 million and from $5,000 to $300,000-500,000 for a misdemeanor-level conviction.

The other issue is OSHA’s ability to investigate worksite conditions. Lack of funding means there are not enough OSHA investigators to enforce the rules. With sufficient funding, OSHA’s local offices would have the staffing and resources to reach abatement against rule-breaking contractors and subcontractors.

Compensation after a construction accident

But as things stand, builders face little enforcement of the rules and fairly small punishment if one of their workers is killed because they failed to create a reasonably safe work environment. This often means that accident survivors (or their families if the worker did not survive) must seek compensation after a catastrophic accident. To know your options, consult a construction accidents attorney.