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Construction in NYC deadlier than in other major cities (10/19)

October 19, 2007

An Associated Press report says New York City construction work has become more deadly than in other big cities, citing new statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Forty-three people died while working construction in New York in 2006, the deadliest year in at least a decade in the city, according to recently released data from BLS. The death toll was up 87 percent from 2005, when 23 people died. Nationally, construction deaths in 2006 rose just 3 percent.

The rise in New York vastly exceeds what happened in other major cities. The Los Angeles area recorded 33 deaths in 2006, versus 35 in 2005, the bureau said. The Miami area had 34 deaths, compared with 26 in the previous year.

Construction is the most dangerous work nationally, accounting for 1,226 fatalities in 2006, or 21 percent of the 5,703 workplace deaths overall, according to BLS.

New York construction workers and safety experts point to the city's unprecedented building boom as a reason for the jump. Major developments are going up in every borough. Apartment buildings and high-rise condos are being built at a frenetic pace, according to AP.

"It spiked because the work spiked," said Dennis Holloway, director of the John B. Scola Training Center in Queens, which trains union bricklayers and other construction workers.

Compounding the problem, reports AP, is that the city has seen an influx of immigrants at the same time as the construction boom. That means more immigrant construction workers who don't speak English and may not comprehend safety warnings.

A review of federal data from 1997 to 2006 revealed there was a more than 260 percent increase in construction deaths in the city involving Hispanics, the largest and one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in New York. Six Hispanics died in 1997 working construction, 22 in 2006.