FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2020
Contact: Charlene Obernauer, 631-524-3922
NYCOSH CONSTRUCTION FATALITY REPORT, “DEADLY SKYLINE,” RELEASED TODAY, REVEALS NEW YORK CITY CONSTRUCTION FATALITIES ON THE RISE; FATALIES DECREASING IN
NEW YORK STATE
New York – Today, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) released its latest construction fatality report, “Deadly Skyline: An Annual Report on Construction Fatalities in New York State.” Researchers found decreasing trends in New York State construction fatalities but that employers routinely violate legal regulations with impunity.The report also found that while New York State is seeing a decrease in construction-related fatalities, New York City construction fatality rates have increased.
NYCOSH’s report unveiled a number of findings and recommendations to improve worker safety in New York.
• New York State’s construction industry remained highly dangerous for workers in 2018, but fatality numbers decreased from prior years. The number of construction workers who died in New York State decreased 14.7% between 2017 and 2018, with 69 deaths in 2017 and 58 deaths in 2018.
• In contrast, New York City’s construction fatality numbers increased in 2018. 20 construction workers died in 2017, compared to 22 in 2018—a 10% increase.
• In 2018, New York City and New York State fatality rates were similar. New York City’s rate rose from 7.8 per 100,000 in 2017 to 10.0 in 2018, and, New York State’s rate fell from 12.2 per 100,000 to 10.5, bringing rates across NYC and NYS closer together.
• Non-union job sites are especially dangerous for workers. NYCOSH analyzed 23 OSHA-investigated construction fatality citations in 2017 and found that in New York State, 86% of workers who died on private worksites were non-union. In New York City, nearly 83% of the 2017 construction workers who died on private worksites were non-union. In New York State, federal OSHA inspectors only investigate worker fatalities on private worksites.
• Latino workers were more likely to die on the job in 2018. In the United States, Latino worker fatalities in all industries have increased by 17.6% in a 6-year period. Latinos also make up a disproportionately high percentage of worker fatalities in New York; an estimated 10% of New York State’s workers are Latino, but in 2018, 19% of worker fatalities were of Latino workers.
• Older workers are more likely to die in construction. New York State construction workers in older age groups are dying at higher rates. In 2018, workers aged 55-64 were most likely to die on the job, followed by workers aged 35-44.
• OSHA construction fines for fatality cases increased, but remain low. The average fine issued by OSHA increased from $21,592 in 2017 to $25,178 in 2018. The highest fine issued in 2018 was $224,620.
NYCOSH’s Recommendations Include:
• Pass Carlos’ Law to increase penalties against criminal contractors.
• Expand criminal prosecutions of contractors statewide.
• Use existing city power to suspend or revoke licenses and construction permits for criminal contractors.
• Increase the role of New York State in protecting construction worker safety given OSHA’s inadequacies.
• Preserve New York’s Scaffold Safety Law.
• Increase funding to the New York City Department of Buildings.
• Mandate subsidy procurement reform and responsible contracting in New York State and New York City.
• Protect Latino and immigrant workers proactively.
ABOUT NYCOSH: The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) is a membership organization of workers, unions, community-based organizations, workers’ rights activists, and health and safety professionals. NYCOSH uses training, education, and advocacy to improve health and safety conditions in our workplaces, our communities, and our environment. Founded 40 years ago on the principle that workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths are preventable, NYCOSH works to extend and defend every person’s right to a safe and healthy workplace.