The most recent construction accident statistics from the New York City Department of Buildings have been released for September 2014. As of the end of that month, 2014 construction accidents in NYC were on track to significantly exceed the number from the previous year.
By the end of September in 2013, there had been 137 construction accidents that resulted in 145 injuries and two fatalities. In contrast, the same period in 2014 showed 175 accidents, with 189 injuries and five fatalities.
Manhattan and the Bronx account for this increase – accidents, injuries and construction deaths in the other boroughs actually decreased. Nevertheless, Brooklyn saw the worst accident, with nine workers injured when a floor in a derelict building collapsed while being demolished. When the incident occurred in February 2014, no permits had been issued for the building at 1916 Prospect Place, and an Environmental Control Board (ECB) violation was issued by the Department of Buildings.
The men fell from the third floor to the first floor. None of the injuries was thought to be life-threatening at the time. According to neighbors, the Crown Heights building had been vacant for years, but had been purchased just weeks before the accident.
As we noted last year in a blog post about this accident, demolition work can be very dangerous. Buildings slated for demolition are often old and structurally unsound. When building supports are not used, drilling that cause vibration or even the weight of employees can cause floors to give way. A collapsed building can also weaken the foundation of nearby buildings, putting other structures and as well as pedestrians at risk.
Not having a permit is an almost certain guarantee that proper demolition procedures are not followed. Given the condition of the building, it is remarkable that injuries were not more serious and that no fatalities occurred.
Whether the statistics will show another 2014 accident with more injuries won’t be known until the statistics for the remainder of the year are compiled. It is pretty clear, however, the 2014 numbers for 2014 will show more accidents, injuries and fatalities than in the previous year, a disturbing trend for workers in the construction industry.