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Construction accidents and deaths occur more at smaller projects

An ironic characteristic of safety patterns has been recognized by experts who observe the construction industry in New York City. Because most of the safety precautions and regulations are directed at new buildings being constructed with 10 stories or more, it is the "minor" buildings of less than 10 stories that get little safety training or oversight. As a result, for example, between 2010 and 2015, there were 40 deaths due to construction accidents; 75 percent of those deaths occurred at the shorter buildings under 10 stories.

The taller buildings must have a site safety coordinator and a site safety engineer, but these are not required for buildings being constructed under 10 stories. The Building Code in New York City does not require any safety plans for the smaller projects. The only persons on-site who are responsible for safety are loaded down with other jobs that may even create a conflict with promoting safety.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides 10 hours of construction safety training to workers on the taller buildings only. When an accident occurs, inspections reveal more safety violations on the shorter building sites. Some safety experts believe that the smaller buildings should get the same safety mandates that now apply to the taller buildings.

These experts state that safety training is necessary for every worker on a New York City construction site. Since there are more deaths occurring on those sites, it does not make sense to continue valuing the safety and the life of those workers as being less important than the workers on tall building sites. When a death occurs on construction accidents, the monetary value of the decedent's life in a wrongful death or other damages claim is judged by equal standards, without consideration of the height of the building in question. That is the way it should be while the worker is still alive and in need of the same protections as other workers.

Source:, "Why Shorter Construction Projects Are More Dangerous Than Taller Ones", Liam La Guerre, Jan. 19, 2017

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