Amidst an increase in building work in 2022, New York City had its worst year for construction fatalities in more than 10 years. Twenty-two workers lost their lives working at construction sites. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), 20 deaths occurred in 2015, the second highest death toll since 2012.
State law to increase penalties for contractors
The fatalities have fallen within two specific groups: Those who work on non-union sites and immigrants, with 17 deaths occurring on the former and the latter representing more than half of the city’s construction workforce. The state legislature and governor responded by passing and signing, respectively, Carlos’ Law, which came into effect at the end of January of 2023. Under the provisions, criminal penalties for contractors will increase to up to a $500,000 fine for the death or injury of an employee.
Construction permit applications increased significantly in 2022
According to New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB), city developers filed for permits for 3,225 buildings in 2022, an increase of 60% from 2021. All boroughs showed an increase; Manhattan increased about 20% from 93 to 112. Queens had the highest number of permits with 1,085. Although the DOB has jurisdiction over only building-related incidents, the agency has launched new safety initiatives that will last through the end of February.
Safety must come first. The consequences of the slightest oversight or lapse in judgment can effect physical, emotional, mental and legal consequences for workers and both their work and families. Attorneys who understand construction accidents work can offer guidance.