Although the construction industry accounts for less than four percent of the jobs in New York City, it represents 20 percent of the on-the-job deaths, according to a report released yesterday by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH).

"Price of Life: 2015 Report on Construction Fatalities in NYC" found the vast majority of fatalities occuring at non-union sites and among immigrant workers - particularly Latinos.

The report's key findings include:

  • Falls from deadly heights make up half of the construction fatalities in New York State and 71% of all injuries in New York City.
  • Immigrant and/or Latino workers and non-union workers are at the greatest risk of death - in 2012 79% of fatal fall construction accidents occurred at nonunion construction sites and 60% of fatal fall victims were immigrant and/or Latino.
  • Violations in New York are routine - two-thirds of OSHA construction inspections in New York between 2010 and 2012 resulted in citations for "serious" safety violations. Despite this, city agencies continue to work with criminal contractors, 89% of contractors working on affordable housing projects have OSHA violations.
  • OSHA has only 71 inspectors to monitor all worksites in all industries in New York City, meaning most sites are never inspected until a worker is injured or killed.
  • OSHA fines for criminal contractors are little more than a slap on the wrist - the average penalty for fatal height-related construction accidents in 2012 was only $7,620.

The demands

NYCOSH, along with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, Build Up NYC and El Centro del Inmigrante, are demanding  the following:

  • That public agencies to: stop awarding taxpayer dollars and public contracts to repeat safety offenders
  • For prosecutors to use existing criminal statutes to go after contractors who violate safety regulations
  • Increased resources for OSHA inspectors to spot problems before they become fatalities
  • For elected officials to keep in place the Scaffold Safety Law, which holds those who control construction sites responsible if they fail to provide proper safety equipment and a worker is injured or killed as a result.

Click here to read the report.