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Construction can be a dangerous job especially in New York City. A recently published report, “The Price of Inaction: The Cost of Unsafe construction in New York City,” has indicated that 36 workers died on the job while doing construction in the city in 2011 and 2012. That is triple previous numbers for the city. Nearly two-thirds of construction workers killed on the job did not have state-approved safety training.
Some experts are predicting an increase in construction worker fatalities in the coming years as the construction industry has boomed following the Great Recession. According to New York Building Congress, the construction industry may grow as much as $37 billion by 2015. Employment in construction is nearly back to its pre-recession levels, with approximately 130,000 workers in currently employed. Worker accidents to the industry cost construction more than $180 million per year.
New proposed city ordinance
A new measure currently pending before the New York City Council, known as “The Safe Jobs Act,” would require that construction companies and developers who receive public subsidies and tax breaks give workers proper safety equipment and training. Specifically, the measure would force developers who receive more than $1 million in public funding for a 100,000 square foot project or more to give all of its employees apprenticeship training. Such safety training has been proven to decrease accidents on the job site. In addition, the measure would mandate a public disclosure of safety violations, ensuring that the city could weed out historically unsafe companies of public projects.
Current laws only mandate such training for traditional city contracts, but not for certain subcontractors.
The precautions may be needed. Construction workers represent 3 percent of the economy of the city but comprise 24 percent of on-the-job fatalities, according to Keith Wrightson, the author of the report. The Safe Jobs Act is still pending before the New York City Council. Build Up NYC, a safety-advocate group comprised of coalition of unions and low wage workers, is a big proponent of the proposed measure. “High safety standards and transparency are vital to ensuring responsible development,” its president, Gary LaBarbera, said in a press release.
Ideally, construction workers would receive the training and safety equipment they need in order to avoid on-the-job accidents. Unfortunately, the reality is that the fast-paced and deadline-driven construction industry can lead to cutting corners where safety is concerned. Workers’ compensation is insurance that allows an injured worker to receive benefits after being injured on the job in order to pay medical expenses and make up for lost wages.
Injured New York City construction workers should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss their legal rights and ensure they are properly compensated according to the law.