Today's News

Study finds lax safety standards at construction sites

A study by the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, released Wednesday, reveals inadequate supervision of city construction sites, and low penalties imposed on violators make it easy for builders to ignore safety rules, according to The New York Times.

"The industry fines are considered a cost of doing business and are too minimal to effect a change in behavior," the association's president, Benedict P. Morelli, said.

The study examines reports prepared by federal safety inspectors after construction accidents in New York City between January 2001 and August of this year that resulted in death or serious injury. A total of 156 accidents were analyzed; all but 12 resulted in at least one fatality.

According to the study, inspectors penalized builders at 113 of the accident sites for violations such as insufficient guardrails and safety nets. In most cases, fines amounted to no more than $10,000; only six of the violations resulted in fines greater than $50,000, the study says.

The average penalty for serious safety violations, in which severe injury or death is highly likely, is $1,569, according to the trial lawyers' study. The maximum prison sentence for a safety violation is six months under federal law, but from 1990 to 2003, there were only four cases nationwide in which a builder found to be at fault was imprisoned, the study says.

OSHA's penalties should at least be severe enough to deter future lapses, said Joel Shufro, executive director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.

In addition to the low penalties, the study lists inadequate supervision as a reason that builders do not feel compelled to comply with safety regulations. Only 28 safety inspectors cover construction and renovation sites in New York City, northern New Jersey, and Westchester and Rockland Counties, allowing inspection of an average of six sites a day in the entire region, the study says.

Nearly half of the 156 accidents examined in the study involved falls from a scaffold, roof or ladder. Immigrant workers were the most common victims, amounting to two-thirds of those killed or injured since October 2001, when OSHA began to include in its reports the language the worker spoke on the job.

"The rapid growth of New York City's underground construction industry, an industry that employs mostly immigrants and where worker safety often takes the back seat, makes credible enforcement of OSHA safety standards more important than ever," said Glenn von Nostitz, senior policy adviser for the trial lawyers' group.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

4/21/15 2:00 pm EDT

The Safety Selfie: It’s time to take a “snap shot” of your safety program and contemplate what others see

We all know perception is reality and that people perceive things differently. As a safety manager, your perception of your safety program almost certainly differs from that of your workers and your managers. We will use our “Safety Selfies” to expose weaknesses, real and perceived, and to talk about how best to make improvements.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN0515_cover.jpg

2015 May

In this month's issue of ISHN, check out articles about heat protection, radiation in the workplace, and welding fumes

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - January 2015

FDO JAN 2015 COVER

 

For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. 

CHECK OUT THE JANUARY 2015 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.