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For Immediate Release
March 10, 2014

BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES FATAL CONSTRUCTION-RELATED ACCIDENTS DECREASED BY 62.5 PERCENT IN 2013

Serious Accidents Decline Due to Increased Enforcement and Outreach to Construction Industry

Buildings Acting Commissioner Thomas Fariello today announced a 62.5 percent decrease in fatal construction-related accidents in New York City in 2013 when compared to the previous year. There were three fatal construction-related accidents in 2013 compared to eight in 2012, a 62.5 percent decrease. All three fatal accidents involved worker falls due to lack of adequate fall protection at the job site. This significant decrease in construction-related fatalities comes as the Department has dedicated specialized enforcement units to address specific site safety concerns and prioritized pre-construction planning and site safety for high-risk construction operations. This drop in the number of fatal construction-related accidents occurred during a period of increased construction permit issuance over the last year. The number of construction permits issued for new buildings citywide increased by 29.3 percent from 1,462 in 2012 to 1,890 in 2013.

“The decrease in fatal accidents in 2013 shows that our outreach to the industry about the importance of worksite safety combined with tougher enforcement has had a significant impact on construction operations in New York City,” said Acting Commissioner Fariello. “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; created specialized enforcement units; expanded its team of highly-qualified inspectors; increased its oversight of high-risk construction operations; and became one of the first cities in the world to accept and review 3D site safety plans for construction operations and approvals. The Department has worked closely with members of the industry to raise awareness about the importance of safety on the job site through its multi-lingual “Experience Is Not Enough” campaign, which emphasizes the need for proper fall protection for workers, including safety harnesses, guardrails and netting. Since 2011, more than 30,000 posters, banners and bracelets have been distributed to construction sites throughout the City.

The total number of reported construction-related accidents rose slightly from 176 in 2012 to 186 in 2013 – an increase of 5.7 percent. The total number of reported construction-related injuries rose from 187 in 2012 to 195 in 2013 – an increase of 4.3 percent. This increase can be attributed to increased accident reporting by industry members. Accurate accident reporting assists the Department and the industry in identifying operational trends on construction sites and new ways to improve construction safety practices. In 2013, the Department issued 5,812 full and partial stop work orders in response to unsafe construction conditions.

In 2013, there were three construction-related fatalities – one in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan – all due to inadequate fall protection at the job site. In January 2013, a worker was fatality injured after suffering a fall during the installation of a steel beam at a construction site. The Department recommends proper pre-task planning prior to steel beam erection to ensure the task is completed safely. In May 2013, a worker fell while doing work without permits on a home in Brooklyn. A scaffold had not been erected to facilitate work at the site and the worker was not wearing a safety harness. In November 2013, a worker died after falling from a supported scaffold in Manhattan. An investigation by the Department showed that the scaffold was improperly installed and had missing planks, guardrails and handrails. There were eight fatal construction-related accidents in 2012; 5 in 2011, 4 in 2010, and 3 in 2009.

In 2013, the Department hosted its ninth annual Construction Safety Week, an annual series of events and outreach programs aimed at raising awareness about construction safety. The week culminates in the daylong Build Safe | Live Safe Conference during which Department experts host seminars to outline industry trends and highlight safe construction practices. Last year, over 400 construction professionals and representatives from government agencies attended the conference. The 2014 Build Safe | Live Safe Conference has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 29th at the Downtown Marriot in Lower Manhattan.

Contact: Kelly Magee (212) 393-2126
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