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Construction Job Site Accidents in New York on the Rise as Site Inspections Drop

Jan 16, 2013

The amount of accidents at construction job sites in New York City rose dramatically in 2012 as compared to the year prior.

According to a New York Daily News report this week, the amount of reported jobsite accidents rose from 119 in 2011 to 157 last year. The number of injuries from those accidents also rose dramatically, from 128 to 187, the source notes citing city records. This marks jumps of 31 and 46 percent, respectively. 

In the last few months, several crane collapses at construction sites underscored the problems currently plaguing the city. Dozens have been injured and lives have been put at risk in these incidents.

It may not just be a streak of bad luck that is causing the spike in accidents. The Daily News also reports that the number of inspections conducted by the city at construction jobsites took a significant dip as the number of accidents rose sharply. Cutbacks in the city’s housing and buildings departments dropped the number of inspections conducted at these sites by more than 40 percent. In 2009, the city conducted more than 244,000 inspections at jobsites. Last year, the city only conducted a little more than 141,000 with little evidence that construction, in general, slowed during that time.

The lack of inspections means the likelihood corners will be cut in regard to jobsite safety increases. During those 141,000 or so inspections last year, there were 6,600 less violations reported than the previous year, a statistic that, when compared to the increased number of injuries and accidents, shows that more inspections and safety violations noted likely results in a reduced number of jobsite injuries and accidents.

The city admits to cutbacks in these departments and unfulfilled promises to hire more building inspectors but instead of working to fill these vacancies, the city is relying on contractors to provide their own safety inspections as a means of “self-policing” job sites to reduce the number of injuries. As has been proven time and again, the success of self-policing in any industry has failed, often miserably, and only helps to put public safety at risk. In the case of self-policing construction job sites, thousands of workers are likely unnecessarily and unknowingly putting their lives at risk when they go to work at these locations.

The city defended the use of contractors to be “the eyes and ears of the Department of Buildings” and attributed the increased number of accidents last year to more falls and falling construction equipment and building materials.

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