NYC Construction Deaths Fell 62 Percent Last Year

Thomas Fariello, acting commissioner of the city's Buildings Department, said all three 2013 fatalities resulted from lack of adequate fall protection.

New York City Buildings Acting Commissioner Thomas Fariello announced last week that there were three fatal construction accidents in the city during 2013, a 62.5 percent drop from the eight recorded the previous year. All three 2013 deaths were falls and "due to lack of adequate fall protection at the job site," according to the department's news release. At the same time, the number of construction permits issued for new buildings citywide increased 29.3 percent, from 1,462 in 2012 to 1,890 in 2013.

The release cited the department's dedicated, specialized enforcement units and the priority it places on pre-construction planning and site safety for high-risk operations. "The decrease in fatal accidents in 2013 shows that our outreach to the industry about the importance of work site safety, combined with tougher enforcement, has had a significant impact on construction operations in New York City," Fariello said. "However, these accidents should serve as a reminder that we need to keep up the pressure when it comes to safety. As building increases across New York City's neighborhoods, we must remain diligent in our enforcement and in finding new ways to keep workers and New Yorkers safe."

Since 2008, the department has implemented more than 25 new construction safety laws, expanded its team of inspectors, and became one of the world's first cities to accept and review 3D site safety plans for construction operations and approvals. Its outreach includes the multi-lingual "Experience Is Not Enough" campaign, stressing the importance of proper fall protection for workers, which has distributed more than 30,000 posters, banners, and bracelets to construction sites in the city.

The total number of reported construction-related accidents rose 5.7 percent, from 176 in 2012 to 186 in 2013, and the number of reported construction-related injuries rose 4.3 percent, from 187 in 2012 to 195 in 2013 – increases the department attributes to increased accident reporting by industry members.

The department's 2014 Build Safe | Live Safe Conference will take place April 29.

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