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Construction Deaths Increase in New York City

NYCOSH reports that construction deaths are higher than the national average

Brian Young's picture
Mar 19, 2021

This week, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) released their annual construction fatality report. The report looked at newly available data from 2019 and found a disturbing trend of increasing construction deaths in New York City.

The report found that while construction deaths in New York State decreased slightly in 2019, construction deaths in New York City increased for the third year in a row. In 2019, 24 construction workers died on the job a 10% increase over 2018 when 22 died. Statewide, there was a 5% decrease in deaths from 58 in 2018 to 55 in 2019.

According to data from OSHA, of the 32 construction fatality investigations in 2019, 78% of the workers who died on private construction sites were non-union. In New York City, where 19 of those investigations happened, 68% of the deaths were workers on non-union sites. The study also found that working conditions were much more dangerous for Hispanic workers who made up 20.5% of workers who died, even though they only represent 10% of New York’s workforce.

"Construction workers put their lives on the line every day to build our homes, hospitals, schools and offices. Seeing a trend of rising fatalities in New York City is particularly alarming, and it’s time lawmakers commit to defending and expanding safety rules and regulations to ensure that bad actors are held accountable and workers can return home to their families at the end of the shift,” said Charlene Obernauer, NYCOSH Executive Director.

In New York City, about 26% of workplace deaths were in construction, much higher than the national average of 19%. Deaths in the construction industry have increased in New York City from a low of 14 in 2011. Nationally there were 1,061 construction fatalities in 2019, including three who died during the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans. In total, there were 5,333 workplace fatalities in 2019.  

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