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NY City Council advocates law to reduce construction accidents

In the past two years, the New York City construction industry has reported at least 30 deaths related to construction workplace accidents. A recent bill proposed by the New York City council will require additional safety training for workers in an effort to reduce the number of deaths and accidents in the construction industry.

After investigating the deaths linked to the industry New York State Department of Labor found that over 80 percent of the deaths were reported at non-union construction sites.  Additionally, it was found that at least 90 percent of the sites with a reported death had violated safety conditions in some manner.

While union construction crews are required to undergo rigorous safety training, non-union workers are found to have little if any training.  The new bill is poised to require the same amount of work site and safety training for non-union workers that their union counterparts receive.  

Common construction site accidents

Construction has always been a dangerous profession and daily work on site can result in major accidents and even death.  The most common types of accidents that occur on job sites include:

  • Falls From Extreme Heights
  • Falling Debris 
  • Machine and Tool Related Accidents
  • Electrocution 
  • Overexertion 
  • Construction vehicle accidents 

What are the main causes of construction site accidents?

Construction site accidents can occur for a number of reasons.  Some are related to the equipment being used, while others are caused by the workers or conditions they may be working in.

Long hours

Working long hours while performing physical tasks can not only lead to mental fatigue but muscle fatigue as well.  Construction projects are often controlled by deadlines and extended hours can lead to more site related accidents due to fatigue.

Improper safety equipment

Most construction workers will be required to wear specific safety gear dependent on their job or function on the site.  Such safety items can include goggles, hearing protection, steel-toed work boots, reflective vests, and safety harnesses.  If not provided with, or utilizing the appropriate safety gear for the job required, a worker is more likely to suffer a work-related injury such as a high fall.

Faulty equipment

While most equipment is expected to pass testing and safety regulations, some equipment may experience a failure, either in the safety system or general operating function.  Whether it is heavy equipment or a small compressor powered tool, an equipment failure can result in a severe or deadly on-site accident.

Insufficient training

A common cause reported on many construction workplace accidents is a lack of training.  If workers are not properly trained in safety protocols, safety protection utilization, or equipment operation they are significantly more likely to be involved in a workplace accident that can result in serious injury.

How can additional training reduce construction site accidents?

As the NYC city council is proposing, requiring additional training in the construction industry will lead to a decline in industry-related accidents and death.  Required training of all construction employees will:

  • Improve Equipment Operation - With proper training workers will be able to operate, store, and maintain equipment with less risk of an accident.
  • Increase Response Time - Risk and safety training will improve workers reaction time when a dangerous problem presents itself.
  • Reduce Safety Violations - When properly trained, workers will be more aware of violations and know how to rectify them to ensure the safety of the entire company.
  • Educate Workers on Dangers - Additional training will not only make workers aware of the dangers associated with the construction site but how to handle them properly when they occur.

While accidents are more common in the construction industry than other fields, proper training of all construction workers will help to reduce the number of overall accidents and improve worker safety on job sites.