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Construction workers’ accidents less prevalent in tall buildings

Monday, March 13, 2017

In New York, the city’s building codes require significantly more safety for workers on the construction sites of buildings with 10 stories or more. Construction workers’ accidents recorded from 2010 through 2015 totaled 1,446 — leading to 40 fatalities. Seventy-five percent of those deaths occurred on construction sites of buildings that were lower than 10 stories tall. The Construction Safety Act was recently proposed before the City Council; in part, it addresses safety on construction sites of shorter — or minor — buildings.

The bill would address the fact that these minor sites previously required no site safety manager or safety coordinator. These individuals are typically New York Department of Buildings licensed professionals who focus on site safety of taller buildings. Other safety rules that are not required for shorter buildings include site safety plans and the mandatory 10 hours of safety training that construction workers on taller buildings have to undergo — as provided by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

Authorities believe there is a need for a shift in the thought process surrounding construction site safety. The new bill aims to get more of the less experienced, young and untrained construction workers through apprenticeships to create a culture of safety. However, a question remains about the fact that the proposed bill requires mandatory construction apprenticeships only for workers on buildings taller than 10 stories. Some say authorities recognize the higher risks for workers on minor buildings and yet fail to address the issue appropriately.

Regardless of whether the proposed bill is passed, construction workers’ accidents will continue to occur on building sites in New York. Injured victims of such incidents can pursue financial assistance to help them cope with medical bills and lost income. The workers’ compensation insurance system provides benefits to cover these losses. The surviving family members of workers who die on the job may claim death benefits for coverage of end-of-life expenses.

Source: commercialobserver.com, “Why Shorter Construction Projects Are More Dangerous Than Taller Ones“, Liam La Guerre, Jan. 19, 2017

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