City reports decline in construction-related injuries, deaths

Data is limited to sites overseen by DOB; non-essential work was shut down from March 27 to June 8

A construction worker at One Vanderbilt in August (Getty)
A construction worker at One Vanderbilt in August (Getty)

The city reported a nearly 19 percent decrease in construction-related injuries in the last fiscal year, a drop the Department of Buildings partially attributes to a new construction safety law.

There were 534 construction-related injuries between July 2019 and June 2020, a drop from the 646 seen during the same time period in the previous year, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest management report, released Thursday. Eight workers were killed in construction-related incidents, down from the 11 recorded the previous year, according to the report.

The data collected by the DOB is limited to construction-related incidents at sites overseen by the agency. It does not include other emergencies on sites — like a worker suffering a heart attack — or injuries and fatalities on projects controlled by other agencies, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. If going by the regular calendar year, the DOB recorded 12 deaths in 2019 and five so far in 2020.

One of the incidents included in the city’s report was the death of 24-year-old Duran Solano, who was fatally crushed in a construction elevator at a new hotel at 1227 Broadway. In another, Segundo Huerta, 48, was killed when a building under construction at 94 East 208th Street partially collapsed. Five others were injured in the incident.

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The decline can be attributed in part to the shutdown of non-essential construction from March 27 through June 8. An accident report from April shows that only three incidents were reported, but in May, that number jumped to roughly 20.

The DOB also implemented Local Law 196, which requires construction workers to complete either a combination of training courses known as OSHA 10 and OSHA 30, or a 100-hour program approved by the DOB. The first of the law’s deadlines, after being extended twice, was Dec. 1, 2019, at which point workers were expected to have completed 30 hours. The second deadline was slated for Sept. 1 but was postponed until March 1, 2021 due to the pandemic.

A spokesperson for the agency indicated that construction accidents were already on the decline prior to the pandemic as the agency ramped up site inspections. The violations resulting from those inspections jumped 87.4 percent, according to the mayor’s report.

“Through aggressive, proactive inspections, new safety training requirements for workers, and the industry’s greater commitment to a culture of safety, we have been able to continue driving down injuries,” Andrew Rudansky, a spokesperson for the DOB, said in a statement. “But we can do better, and are committed to further making construction sites safer for workers and the public.”

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