The New York City Department of Buildings releases statistics every month about construction accidents that occur in the city. The most recent month available, April 2014, shows both raw numbers of accidents and compares those numbers to the previous year, 2013.
The types of construction accidents listed the report are:
- Worker falls
- Scaffolding/Shoring accidents
- Injuries caused by mechanical construction equipment
- Falls caused by material failure
- Excavation and soil work
The most common type of construction accident is a worker fall. Through April of 2014 there were 29 worker fall accidents, compared to 19 for the same period the previous year. There were a total of 52 worker fall accidents in 2013; if the current trend continues, there will be more in 2014. Through April of this year, three of those falls have been fatal.
The second most common type of construction accident is a fall caused by material failure. So far this year (through April), there have been six falls resulting from equipment failure. This is a significant decrease over the previous year, when 16 fall accidents due to material failure occurred in the same time period (January through April). Examples of this type of accident include ceiling collapse, wall collapse, stair failure, window installation failure, failure of the slab, and more. All told, there were 49 such accidents in 2013, none of which were fatal. Time will tell whether the improved record for the first few months of 2014 continues for the remainder of the year.
The third most common type of construction accident in New York City are scaffolding or shoring accidents. These are caused by the failure, for whatever reason, of the systems set up to protect workers at heights (usually more than six feet off the ground) or those constructed to prevent walls from caving in. There was the same number of this type of accident through April 2014 as there was through April of 2013 – three. None of these accidents was fatal in either 2013 or so far in 2014.
The fourth most common type of accident reported by the Department of Buildings is the excavation/soil work accident. Soil failure is the sudden collapse of an excavation wall. Preventing such accidents requires knowledge of soil types and the ability to identify factors that could cause an excavation wall to collapse, such as changes in moisture content of the soil. Through April of 2014 no accidents of this type were reported. In 2013, four such accidents were reported for the entire year.
The last category of construction accidents is “Other.” There were 52 such accidents in 2013; the exact nature of these accidents varies considerably. Causes of accidents in the “Other” category include those caused by:
- Electricity exposure
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Flying glass
- Slip and falls
- Falling equipment
- Ladder falls
- Shifting loads
- Improper lifting
According to the DOB, the vast majority of reported construction accidents occur in Manhattan, where 42 accidents occurred between and April 2014. Brooklyn had the second largest number of accidents, seven. The Bronx and Queens had the same number in this period: four. There was one accident in Staten Island in the first four months of 2014.