Report: NYC Construction Deaths Lowest in Decade

THURSDAY, MAY 9, 2024


The annual New York City Construction Report recently highlighted the lowest building construction-related fatalities in almost a decade, with the city’s Department of Buildings noting that construction remains “a safer profession today than in years past.”

Published just in time for the beginning of National Construction Safety Week, the report provides an overview of department-collected data to increase transparency within the construction industry, while highlighting the importance of safety regulations in the city’s Construction Codes.

The 2023 report found that, despite conducting more total inspections than ever, department personnel have issued fewer violations and Stop Work Orders than the past several years. Additionally, building construction-related fatalities in the five boroughs are at the lowest number in nearly a decade, with seven deaths in 2023 as compared to a high of 14 in 2019.

Report Findings

The annual report provides an overview of building development data, construction worker incidents and enforcement actions, to increase transparency within the construction industry and highlight the importance of adhering to the safety regulations in the city’s Construction Codes.

Notable data from the 2023 report includes the following:

  • Tragically, seven construction workers died in building construction-related incidents in 2023—four fewer than 2022 and the lowest number of fatalities that have occurred citywide in nearly a decade. Worker falls continue to be the leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries on construction sites.
  • Worker injuries on building construction work sites are up for a third straight year, increasing by 25% compared to 2022. Coinciding with the increase in reported injuries, is an increase in injuries that are investigated and where no safety violations are found.
  • In 2023, the department conducted more than 370,000 total field inspections of buildings and construction sites across all five boroughs, which represents the highest total inspections conducted by the department since it began tracking this data.
  • Despite conducting more inspections, the department is taking less enforcement actions, meaning that inspectors are finding fewer violating conditions and more sites operating in compliance. The DOB issued 31% fewer Stop Work Orders and 18% fewer OATH violations in 2023 compared to 2024.
  • Overall construction activity has largely remained consistent with previous years. Total permits issued for all projects decreased slightly by 3%, however initial permits for new building projects have increased by 28%. Initial demolition permits, which typically serve as an indicator for the future outlook of construction activity, decreased slightly by 7% compared to 2022, but overall remains higher than the two years prior to that.
  • The DOB saw increases in both incidents reported to the department and injuries on building construction sites. The DOB counts an injury as any time a worker receives off-site medical attention because of an incident, regardless of the severity of the injury. This increase in injuries is of particular concern to the department, which has been actively analyzing data to ascertain why more workers have been injured on the job and how this can be addressed.

Also notably, data from the department reportedly showed a large increase of 14% in ladder falls, stair falls and tripping incidents. These types of incidents were investigated by the department but did not result in any enforcement actions because no unsafe or illegal conditions were found.

Additionally, despite the uptick in construction related incidents and injuries, construction overall reportedly remains a safer profession today than in years past, with an 8% decrease in building construction-related injuries in the last five years.

“This Construction Safety Week let’s challenge ourselves, as an industry and a regulatory agency, to join together in redoubling their efforts to keep construction workers safe on the job site,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo.

“Collectively, we should be proud of the collaborative work done in 2023 to drive down building construction-related fatalities, but there is still so much work to do because even one death is too many. Our annual Construction Safety Report underscores the progress made in enhancing compliance and promoting worksite safety, while also serving as a potent reminder about the tragic consequences when corners are cut and safety regulations are ignored.”

The department says that throughout Construction Safety Week, personnel will be fanning out across the city to conduct spot inspections and chat with workers about the critical importance of worksite safety. They will also be reaching out to licensees and registrants citywide, and sharing critical safety messages on social media, to spread the word about best practices for staying safe on the job.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Construction; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Inspection; Labor; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Safety; Workers

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