Recent data from the Department of Buildings (DOB) shows that safety at New York City construction sites has improved in accordance with legislation that was passed in 2017. This recent development in the construction industry aligns well with the ongoing construction boom.
Set to be one of the biggest construction booms in 25 years, it’s bringing countless construction work opportunities into the city – a time during which risk is typically high. Nearly $21.9 billion is being poured into the construction of office buildings, institutions, and hotels. As a result, more construction work positions are opening up with higher pay and better benefits throughout the city.
Injuries on the Decline
Even with the construction boom, injuries continue to drop in the sector. Experts attribute part of this to proactive inspections and new training requirements that have made construction workers on the job more knowledgeable of the dangers.
The city’s DOB Commissioner, Melanie E. La Rocca, announced that construction injuries for the period of January 2019 to October 2019 had dropped 26 percent in comparison to the same period in 2018. To clearly demonstrate the improvement, 657 injuries occurred during this same time period in 2018, but 483 occurred during the same period in 2019.
Local Law 196
First implemented in 2017, Local Law 196 required workers at major constructions sites in New York City to show that they had completed OSHA 10-hour training in the last five years. This 10-hour training, offered by various OSHA-certified private training providers, covers the basics of coping with common hazards, as well as heavy equipment management and fall safety.
The Construction Safety Compliance (CSC) Unit also began conducting more random inspections at these sites, which put the construction companies on guard. They couldn’t afford to let safety fall to the wayside. In the process, over 6,000 constructions sites in New York City were being carefully monitored, and this improved construction in general.
Currently, the CSC has 38 inspectors, and they have 10 new trainees, which means that they will soon have 48 inspectors to help with overseeing the safety at these sites.
Construction companies that don’t follow safety procedures have suffered great penalties that have led to over $15 million in safety penalties across the five boroughs of New York City. This ensures that it hurts companies if they don’t follow suit with the guided safety measures that improve safety for all.
The Big Picture
We have witnessed many positives in 2019 with the decline in construction injuries, but this only underlines an even bigger picture where construction injuries have steadily declined over the last decade in New York City. What we have witnessed in 2019 shows continued positive shifts through increased awareness and policy that supports workplace safety.
Easier access to safety training with the introduction of online courses, webinars, and assessments has also contributed to the decline in injuries. Workers can train remotely with resources provide by their employers.
One of the key drivers of these positive statistics has also been how random inspections have kept construction companies on their toes. While the statistics improved in 2019, the injuries were on the rise again slightly in 2017 prior to Law 196’s implementation.
In addition to the new December requirement, workers at job sites that require a Site Safety Plan need to have 40 hours of training starting in 2020. With the new year, city officials expect to see the rate of injuries and New York City construction sites continue to decrease – a testament to the necessity of training and periodic check-ins from safety inspectors.