De Blasio says “jurisdictional differences” are why DOB doesn’t count one-third of construction deaths

City will only officially count construction fatalities if they violate the construction code and endanger public, mayor says

Bill de Blasio, 9-19 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District in April 2015 and Rick Chandler
Bill de Blasio, 9-19 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District in April 2015 and Rick Chandler

The de Blasio administration is defending its approach to counting construction deaths, even though the city officially recorded just 11 of the 17 construction-related fatalities last year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the issue is caused by jurisdictional and reporting differences between the Department of Buildings and the federal agency Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Crain’s reported.

Currently the city only tracks fatalities that violate the city’s construction code, which focuses on public safety rather than the safety of individual construction workers.

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In the six fatalities on construction sites in 2015 that were not considered under the city’s purview, OSHA fined employers thousands of dollars and issued safety violations. But as far as the city is concerned these death are a labor issue and should not be included in the city’s official tally.

“That’s normal division of labor between the city government and state or federal government,” de Blasio said at a press conference in explaining the cause of the statistical disparity, according to Crain’s.

In an email, a city spokesperson told the website the de Blasio administration will not examine the disparity. “This is ultimately an accounting distinction, not a regulatory gap or policy problem,” the spokesperson wrote, “Regardless of where the total count of tragic incidents is kept, two levels of government are doing a great deal to keep workers and the public safe on job sites.” [Crains]Miriam Hall