Construction in New York City increased last year over 2020, which is not surprising given the fact that life as we knew it changed that year. Even though the number of construction permits rose, the number of safety-related events at worksites dropped.
That drop represents not only fewer incidents than in 2020. It continues a decline over the past few years. According to the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB), the number of incidents declined from 796 in 2020 to 712 in 2021. Injuries and fatalities rose slightly, but both are lower than they were in 2018 and 2019.
The number of construction-related incidents includes those where someone was injured or killed as well as events like material drops and collapses where no injuries were reported. Falls were the most common cause of both fatal and non-fatal construction injuries last year. Of the nine fatalities, seven were caused by falls.
What’s behind the drop in construction-related safety incidents?
The DOB credits a number of changes it’s made for the drop. Last June, it started a “Zero Tolerance” campaign after several falls in the first half of the year. Jobsite inspections and stop-work orders increased, with hefty fines levied on contractors found to be out of compliance with regulations during the three months of the campaign.
Because the city had to use inspectors from other areas to make this campaign work, these increased inspections couldn’t continue indefinitely. However, as one city council member noted, “These reports help inform the measures we need in place to prioritize the safety of workers and the public.”
As projects that have been made possible by the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) bring construction and put more people to work, the head of the Building Construction Trades Council of Greater New York says that it’s more important than ever “to ensure that the rigorous safety protocols required at union worksites become the standard across all New York City construction sites.”
If your construction business is dealing with fines or litigation over regulatory or safety issues, it’s wise to have experienced legal guidance.