On Thursday, December 15, 2022, yet another construction worker fell to his death — this time outside of a building in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.
Shortly after 1:00 p.m., the worker, in his 50s, fell from scaffolding on the third floor of the building on 45th Street. He was later pronounced dead at Maimonides Medical Center. Further details into the incident have not been released. Our thoughts are with the victim’s loved ones during this difficult time.
While more information is needed to understand the cause of the incident, this tragedy highlights a grisly trend. Construction-related fatalities are on the rise in 2022 compared with recent years, according to data collected by New York State. This data also shows that falls have been by far the most common cause of construction site deaths over the past year.
Notably, the majority of worker deaths were non-union workers, who have historically faced more risks on the job than their union counterparts. According to the latest Deadly Skyline report, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) found that 79 percent of workers who died on private work sites were non-union. The report further explains that non-union workers do not have a union to protect them if their employer retaliates against them for reporting safety violations. Outside of regulatory government agencies like OSHA, non-union contractors have little oversight, making it easier for them to cut corners at the expense of worker safety. And with OSHA being underfunded, construction site inspections to ensure that safety standards are maintained are far less frequent.
Serious issues indeed. The bottom line is that the current infrastructure of OSHA fails to properly prioritize worker safety. OSHA’s funding is a critical issue that too often is conveniently ignored. It needs to be addressed because lives are on the line. With fewer OSHA inspections on construction sites, workers, in particular – non-union workers, are generally dependent on how ethical general contractors, construction site owners, subcontractors, and others responsible for worker safety are. Though some of us may have encountered unethical employers in the past, the stakes are much, much higher for construction workers. It’s literally their lives that are in danger when employers rush to finish a job quickly instead of ensuring that all safety standards are met. Sadly, this practice is not uncommon – it plagues underrepresented populations. According to NYCOSH, Latino and/or minority workers “are repeatedly exploited by employers who willfully violate safety and health protections on the job.”
The Brooklyn Bridge, with its Neo-Gothic towers, is an iconic part of New York. Yet, it’s sobering to know that over two dozen workers died in the process of building it. From historic structures to your local delicatessens, construction workers have built this city that we enjoy. We must do our part and urge those in power to implement and enact laws that promote worker safety. One such law is Carlos’ Law, which would set harsher penalties for negligent employers that place workers’ lives at risk. Since its introduction in 2018 following the tragic death of Carlos Moncayo, a construction worker killed in a trench collapse, Carlos’ Law has since passed both houses of NY State Legislature. As the number of worker deaths continues to rise, more pressure is being directed toward Governor Kathy Hochul to sign the legislation into law.
For those who’ve been harmed in construction site accidents, our construction accident lawyers are here to help you pursue justice. Please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form to discuss your legal options with a Block O’Toole & Murphy attorney.