Council committee wants city to record data on accidents at union, nonunion sites

Knowing what type of labor is used on sites will improve safety levels: Jumaane Williams

A construction site and Jumaane Williams
A construction site and Jumaane Williams

The chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings is pushing the city to record whether construction deaths happen on union or nonunion sites.

The number of construction site incidents increased over the past two years, with 433 accidents and 471 injuries on work sites last year, according to Department of Building figures cited by the New York Daily News. That’s around double what it was in 2014. The city also counted 12 construction site fatalities last year, up from eight in 2014.

Advocates argue union-run construction sites are safer for workers, but there are no clear statistics to determine if that’s accurate. Council member and committee chair Jumaane Williams argued that the city should classify incidents based on whether the site is union or nonunion.

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“Tracking it may actually be helpful in finding out what’s actually going on,” Williams told the Daily News. “I think that it could give us data on who’s safe and who isn’t.”

There is also a discrepancy between how the city and federal governments track construction site deaths. While the DOB counted 12 construction fatalities last year the federal government recorded 17. The city only tracks fatalities that violate the city’s construction code, which is concerned with public safety, not necessarily that of individual construction workers. As a result, only some of the deaths that occurred on construction sites in New York City were investigated last year.

In its October issue, The Real Deal spoke to developers, contractors and city officials on the high volume of construction-related accidents. They said it’s an imperfect balancing act of promoting worker safety without hampering progress on development. [NYDN]Miriam Hall

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