The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) recently issued a report, “Dying for Work in New York,” a summary of up-to-date and historic data on occupational health and safety in New York City and New York State.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Workplace fatalities in New York City and New York State cause pain, suffering, and financial loss to affected families and businesses.

  • The rate of workplace fatalities in New York City and New York State remains unacceptably high, although both saw decreases in 2007.

  • The number of construction fatalities in New York City and New York State declined in 2007. New York City saw a decrease in construction deaths by falls; the remainder of the state saw an increase in construction deaths by falls. This may be a reflection of the new regulations, fines and increased enforcement of scaffolding regulations enacted in 2006 in New York City.

  • Last year, 69% of the workplace injuries in New York City involved non-union workers; 58% involved non-English-speaking immigrants.

  • The number of OSHA inspectors in New York State and New York City is insufficient to protect the health and safety of workers. Although New York State added over thirty thousand new private-industry workplaces between 2001 and 2007, OSHA actually had fewer inspectors in the state in 2007 than in 2001. The ratio of inspectors to workers remains well below that recommended by the International Labor Organization.

  • OSHA provides little incentive to abate hazards. The average proposed OSHA fine resulting from a fatality inspection in New York State was $5,193.

  • OSHA’s concentration of its enforcement resources on the construction industry, while justified as an efficient use of its scarce resources, results in inadequate coverage of other sectors of the economy. Construction made up 4.9% of the state’s private-sector employment in 2007 and accounted for approximately 20% of the fatalities, but received 61% of OSHA inspections.