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Crane Safety: NYC Not Measuring Up

The New York City lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are handing out report cards on construction safety.

Why? Because worker safety still looms as one of our society’s larger concerns.

Shockingly, New York City is part of the problem and not the solution. A recent audit by a New York City politician shows that New York City is way behind the curve when it comes to worker safety. No wonder this issue continues to be a problem and costs hard-working women and men their lives.

The context of this audit is telling. The Department of Buildings hired a private consultant to prepare safety recommendations after two high-profile catastrophic crane accidents that occurred here in the city. The report was generated at a time when construction accidents had reportedly increased by almost 50% over a two-year span. The crane collapses took place in 2008 and in total resulted in nine people being killed. Shortly thereafter, the private company was retained to make their respective recommendations. The report was submitted to New York City more than four years ago.

Amazingly, among 65 distinct safety recommendations, the city of New York has implemented only eight of them. That is less than 12 percent. Equally shocking, the City actually paid this consultant more than $5 million for recommendations that it would later choose to ignore.

The failings of the Department of Buildings were crystallized in a report generated by city Comptroller Scot Stringer. Stringer concluded that a “lack of a strong government commitment to fix this problem is inexcusable.” His report added that of the 65 recommendations, 17 of them were partially implemented and 18 of them were in the progress of being started. The biggest chunk of the safety recommendations, more than one third of the overall suggestions, were wholly ignored. These findings came after the buildings department pledged to implement almost 80% of the suggested changes within two years. Now four years later they are way behind in honoring their promises.

The most troubling thing is that these safety recommendations were not pithy suggestions by a company trying to show that its report was “money well spent.” Actually they were focused on overall worker safety and saving lives, because a crane accident is never described as a minor accident. This isn’t about politics; this is about keeping people safe and making sure that children don’t grow up without a parent because we didn’t make the job safe enough. Pick it up, New York City!

Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm committed to fighting on behalf of construction workers. The battle we wage takes place in courtrooms all over New York State as well as in the offices of Federal and State lawmakers. We firmly believe that our job as lawyers for construction workers includes being a voice that values the protection and enforcement of worker safety laws. We have recovered more than $800 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our injured clients. You can learn more about these construction accident lawyers by reviewing the firm website at You may also call them now for a free consultation at 212-736-5300.

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