The Department of Buildings (DOB) announced in January a 28 percent decrease in construction-related accidents in the city in 2010, but that good news was marred with the advent of three fatal accidents since then.
According to the DOB, in 2010 there were 157 reported construction-related accidents versus 218 in 2009 and only four accidents resulted in death of the construction workers in 2010, a 78 percent decrease from 2008. The DOB added there was a 31 percent decline in construction-related injuries from 241 to 165 in 2010 – an attribution to increased regulation, safety programs, and industry member awareness.
“The decrease in accidents in 2010 shows that construction can be done safer,” said DOB commissioner Robert LiMandri. “Our inspectors, engineers and architects are working harder than ever to protect New Yorkers, and as a result, there is a heightened awareness of safety throughout the construction industry.”
The DOB further indicated a seven percent decline in new construction permits for new buildings citywide from 1,635 in 2009 to 1,517 in 2010. The accidents in 2010 occurred from a lack of adequate fall protection on the job site.
The three fatal construction-related accidents this year occurred in January in Elmhurst at 84-18 Queens Boulevard and two in Manhattan at 150 West 83rd Street this month.
“It is a concern for us and the actions in Manhattan are due to not taking proper precautions,” said Eugene Corcoran, DOB deputy commissioner of enforcement. “The accident in Queens is under investigation, but we are also engaged in reaching our community.”
The DOB has implemented more than 25 new construction safety laws and educated industry members on the importance of safety for their workers.
“We address the safety issues by enforcement and education,” said Corcoran. “But the responsibility is on the workers themselves.”
Conferred by Corcoran, the DOB has launched a series of initiatives and a variety of proactive enforcements to increase construction safety, such as a new concrete unit, which has conducted more than 350 audits of field and lab work by private concrete-testing laboratories.
The DOB has hosted Construction Safety Week, a weeklong series of events, to raise awareness. According to Jennifer Gilbert, spokesperson for the DOB, they hold the annual Construction Safety Week in every borough, but they have not yet announced the plans for this year’s safety week events.
“Under LiMandri, we are focused on construction safety and we are trying to work with stake holders,” Corcoran said.