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Construction Fatalities Rise in NY Metro Area

The numbers are not yet out for 2012 construction accidents. However, in 2011, 4,609 workers were killed on the job in the United States, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Of 4,114 worker fatalities in private industry that year, almost 18 percent occurred in construction accidents. The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by electrocution, being struck by objects, and being caught between objects.

“Let me put that number into perspective for you: More Americans were killed in workplaces tragedies in one year than were lost in nine years of war in Iraq,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in an April 2012 speech.

“Every day in America, 12 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury from which some may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy. American workers are not looking for a handout or a free lunch. They are looking for a good day’s pay for a hard day’s work. They just want to go to work, provide for their families, and get home in one piece.”

In the New York metro area, including northern New Jersey and Long Island, construction fatalities jumped from 28 in 2010 to 40 in 2011, the nydailynews.com reported from the latest available data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More accidents may be occurring because the city has cut oversight of construction drastically. Nydailynews.com reported that the buildings department cut the number of worksite inspections by 40 percent – from 244,000 in fiscal 2009 to 141,000 in fiscal 2012, and consequently notices of violations dropped by 6,600 from 2011 to 2012.

One of the reasons for the drop in inspections and violation notices is that the city is now counting on contractors to police themselves and voluntarily report violations.

Barry Romm, the department’s chief of investigations, offered this candid view during a recent hearing to suspend a crane operator’s license, calling contractors “the eyes and ears of the Department of Buildings,” nydailynews.com reported.

The increased injuries and decreased regulation by the city mean that construction workers need to be extra safety cautious to protect themselves. If an injury or death does occur on the job site, workers and their families should contact an experienced NYC construction accident attorney to learn more about recovering medical expenses, lost wages and other costs.

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