Data Show New York City Construction Injuries and Fatalities Were Up in 2021
Construction accidents are one of the most common sources of workplace accidents in the United States. In fact, violations of fall protection standards in the construction industry are the most frequently-issued citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). With the fourth-largest construction sector in the nation, these types of accidents are particularly common in New York. A new report issued by the City of New York Department of Buildings titled “2021 Construction Safety Report” found that construction injuries and fatalities were up in New York City in 2021. If you have suffered an injury as the result of a construction accident, you have options for recovery; please contact an attorney to find out more.
Construction Accidents Are Trending Downward Overall but Rose Slightly in 2021
The rates of construction incidents, injuries, and fatalities have generally been on a downward trend for the past several years. From 2018 to 2021, the number of incidents declined from 1,193 to 712, the number of injuries declined from 759 to 594, and the number of fatalities declined from 13 to 9. However, the report found that, despite the overall decline, there was a slight increase in injuries and fatalities from 2020 to 2021:
Source: 2021 Construction Safety Report, City of New York, 2022.
The report theorizes that this increase may be due to an increase in construction activity in 2021, as all non-essential construction activity was suspended for several months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the number of construction-related incidents the Department of Buildings was called to respond to decreased by more than 10%, the rate of construction-related injuries and fatalities increased by 1%. The report also states that while the number of incidents has gone down, workers were more likely to require medical attention where they did occur.
The Leading Causes of Incidents and Fatalities
The report provides insight into what causes construction incidents and fatalities in New York City. As is to be expected, and consistent with nationwide trends, worker falls from heights were by far the most common cause of incidents and fatalities in New York City. The top five causes of construction incidents in 2021 were as follows, in decreasing order:
- Worker fall (205)
- Material fall (36)
- Scaffold/fence/shoring installations (33)
- Mechanical construction equipment (14)
- Excavation/soil work (13)
The top causes of fatalities on construction sites in 2021 were:
- Worker fall (7)
- Mechanical construction equipment. (2)
Construction workers who are injured in any of these types of accidents, as well as many others, may be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim to recover their medical costs and a portion of their salary. Please contact an attorney for more information about beginning a workers’ compensation claim.
The Nine Fatal Accidents in New York City in 2021 and Their Causes
A total of nine construction workers lost their lives in New York City in 2021. While that is fewer than the 13 in 2018, even one fatality is too many. Of the nine deaths, seven were caused by falls, underscoring the importance of fall prevention and proper work site safeguards. The nine fatal accidents, as well as their causes, were:
- Midtown Trash Chute Fall: On February 15, a worker was cleaning an area where a trash chute was being installed when the wooden board covering the opening snapped beneath them, causing them to fall to the floor below.
- Pleasant Plains Roof Fall: On February 17, a worker performing roofing work on a single-family home died after falling from the roof to the ground.
- Chelsea Electric Shock: On April 19, a worker who was on the top floor of a 26-story building died after coming into contact with a live wire near an unpermitted electrical transformer.
- Flatlands Walkway Fall: On April 23, a worker died after falling 10 feet from a walkway consisting of wooden planks suspended from a sidewalk shed to a scaffold.
- Mott Haven Elevator Drop: On May 19, a worker removing debris from the top floor of a five-story building was crushed when the unapproved elevator they were transporting material in crashed into a pit below.
- Long Island City Mechanical Shaft Fall: On May 22, a worker died after falling from a sixth-floor landing into a mechanical shaft.
- Flatbush Roof Fall: On May 27, a worker was killed after falling 60 feet from the roof of a two-story building to the ground.
- Hudson Square Work Site Fall: On September 14, a worker was killed after falling 86 feet through the mesh screen of an elevator shaft opening to the ground below.
- Gowanus Roof Fall: On November 1, a worker was killed after falling through a 15-inch gap between a building and a scaffold.
Get Help after a Construction Accident from an Attorney
If you have suffered an injury due to a construction accident, you may be eligible for benefits through the workers’ compensation program. For more information about filing a claim, please contact an attorney at Turley, Redmond & Rosasco by using our online form or by calling us at 877-693-2529 (New York City), 516-745-5666 (Garden City), 631-582-3700 (Ronkonkoma), or 631-399-0400 (Shirley/Riverhead).