Thursday, January 7, 2010

New York Construction fatalities drop in 2009

Construction fatalities dropped dramatically in the city last year as a decade-long building boom came to a halt, but accidents and injuries rose, city statistics show.

There were three fatal construction accidents last year compared to 19 in 2008 - an 84% drop and the lowest rate in four years. In 2007, 12 people died in construction accidents; 18 died in 2006.

Buildings Commssioner Robert Limandri on Thursday credited the drop to stepped-up enforcement and increased oversight.

Nevertheless, the number of reported construction accidents jumped to 224 in 2009 from 151 the year before - even though new building permits were down by one-third. Reported injuries climbed to 246 from 178.

The Buildings Department said the higher accident rates were due to better reporting by contractors.

"We have been working to change the culture of the construction industry, to put public safety ahead of profit, and our message is being heard,' LiMandri said.

Two of the 2009 deaths involved workers falling, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. Neither had properly used a required safety harness. The third was caused by collapse of a concrete wall in Staten Island.

In an effort to crack down on unsafe conditions, the city revised its construction codes last year for the first time in 40 years and launched a series of safety initiatives, including mandatory training for tower crane operators and tracking numbers for major contractors.



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