- In 2021, 12.1 per 100,000 construction workers in New York state died on the job, a 9% increase from 11.1 the year before, according to a new report from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.
- The total number of workers who died in the state increased to 61 in 2021, up from 41 in 2020, reported NYCOSH, a membership organization that represents workers, unions and health and safety professionals.
- About one-quarter of all worker deaths in the state were in construction, a rate similar to 2020 — indicating the rate of worker fatalities has increased across sectors. NYCOSH’s report analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics fatality data, which is released a full year after the fact.
Despite New York’s rise, the number of construction workers who died on the job across the country in 2021 dropped 2.2%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Both New York state’s fatality rate and New York City’s — 11.2 per 100,000 workers — were above the national average of 9.4 per 100,000.
Other findings from NYCOSH’s report include:
- New York City’s fatality rate increased by 60% from 2020 to 2021.
- In the last 10 years, on average, 53.6 workers have died in New York state each year.
- Latinx workers made up 25.5% of worker fatalities in 2021, despite making up only 10% of the workforce.
NYCOSH called for stronger enforcement, funding for more safety regulations and requirements, a preservation of the state’s controversial “Scaffold Law” and use of the recently signed Carlos’ Law. The latter raised penalties for employers found criminally negligent in cases of worker death.
Carlos’ Law increased the $10,000 fine for such a felony to a minimum of $500,000 and a maximum of $1 million, and the $5,000 fine for a misdemeanor to a minimum of $300,000 and a maximum of $500,000.
NYCOSH also called for increased funding and hiring for OSHA. Nevertheless, OSHA’s funding would need to increase drastically in order to pursue and reach abatement for most violators.
Many of the industry’s most serious violations resulting from fatalities or injuries are on residential jobsites. Nine in 10 of those cases don’t reach abatement, according to Stephen B. Boyd, OSHA regional director.
Instead, offenders often fold, change names or vanish in another fashion, making it impossible to track down those responsible and hold them accountable for failing to provide a safe workplace.
“There’s really not a lot we can do as an agency,” Boyd told attendees of Associated General Contractors of America’s safety conference last month. “It’s a trend and it’s probably going to stay a trend.”