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New York construction worker deaths reach alarming numbers

There is mounting concern over the safety of construction workers in New York. The numbers of construction worker deaths and injuries have risen significantly, and federal investigators have reported that the majority of the incidents were entirely avoidable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has, in many cases, determined that construction company owners focus on speedy completion of projects rather than worker safety.

Some of these avoidable deaths include that of a 36-year-old worker who fell 19 feet at a Brooklyn construction site. Within a few weeks, a 58-year-old worker plummeted eight stories, and less than two weeks later a 33-year-old worker fell from a 110-foot high roof. OSHA officials are concerned, because in most instances, the victims of these fatal fall accidents were not protected by safety harnesses and hard hats; in many cases, supervision is nonexistent.

According to the records kept by the city's Building Department, 10 construction workers lost their lives from July 2014 through July 2015. The concern is justified when this figure is compared to the annual average of 5.5 fatalities over the past four years. Additional information from OSHA shows that seven of the 10 deaths this fiscal year occurred since July, and three were reported within the nine days leading up to Labor Day.

Despite the strict safety regulations as prescribed by OSHA, disregard of construction worker safety by employers remains a significant concern. Although nothing can replace a loved one, surviving family members can obtain financial relief by filing death benefits claims through the New York workers' compensation insurance program. The compensation for end-of-life arrangements and financial assistance to help with living expenses may ease the burden placed on the shoulders of those who were left behind.

Source: The New York Times, "Safety Lapses and Deaths Amid a Building Boom in New York", David. W. Chen, Nov. 26, 2015

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