A decrease in unions and inspections threatens the safety of construction sites
As the number of construction projects in New York City continue to rise, so do the number of construction accident fatalities. There has been an 18% increase in the number of work permits and construction projects in recent years, with only 71 Occupational Health and Safety Administration inspectors for the entire state of New York - a 13% decrease from previous years. This shortfall has left many New York job sites without proper inspection. Those that are inspected often receive multiple safety citations, usually with at least one classified as "serious" and far too many citations that are potentially fall-related. Despite the citations, work sites generally don't change their regulations after an inspection. The OSHA fines are usually small enough that those in charge of the work sites don't feel any pressure to do things differently than before.
Charlene Obernauer, the Executive Director of New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, is more than aware of the problem. "We really need to see and make sure that we have adequate inspections and adequate enforcement, because without that we're going to see higher numbers of fatalities," she said.
From 2011 to 2015, 59% of all construction accident fatalities resulted from falls. Nationwide, that statistic is 36%. Additionally, 80% of New York City fatalities in 2014 occurred on non-union sites. In 2015, that number was 74%. Of all the sites that were inspected, 93% were "severe violators," meaning inspectors found repeat violations at the job site. Out of the 30 construction workers who lost their lives from 2015-2017, 28 were working on non-union job sites.
As with the rise in construction projects, there has also been a rise in non-union work. Most new residential construction projects are "open shop," meaning they are open to hiring union or non-union laborers. Non-union companies are more likely to get hired because they are less expensive, as those companies are not required to pay their workers union wages or adhere to other union requirements.
High risk jobs deserve the best safety protections
Construction workers play a vital part in the growth and maintenance of our city. With more than 8 million people living and working in our great city, there is always more that can be done to improve conditions for workers. The men and women who work on those job sites deserve fair pay, union representation and the proper safety procedures.
As we know, construction is a high risk job. With the heavy machinery and dangerous work conditions, accidents are more likely to occur in the construction field than in other areas of work. Because of this inherent risk, construction workers have the right to know that there are safety measures put in place to protect them from workplace accidents. When this is not the case, the construction accident lawyers at Giampa Law are there to help those workers get back on their feet. We work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve and will stop at nothing in the pursuit of justice.