Construction activity is an ever-present fact of life amid the bustle and progress of NYC. But unfortunately, construction can pose serious risks to members of the public and workers alike when proper safety measures are overlooked.
The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) plays a vital role in the coordination and oversight of urban development in the Big Apple. It enforces safety codes and zoning restrictions for more than one million buildings and tens of thousands of constriction sites throughout NYC.
The DOB recently published its second-ever Construction Safety Report for 2021. This new annual report aims to improve enforcement strategies, promote a culture of safety, and decrease NYC construction site injury and fatality rates.
Increases in Construction Activity Across Each Borough
Construction activity decreased throughout the United States in 2020, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the widespread economic recovery has contributed to a corresponding increase in construction activity here in New York City. The following statistics detail the rise in construction activity in 2021 based on geographic location:
- 168,423 initial and renewal building permits were issued throughout NYC, a 14 percent increase over the previous year.
- 63,320 building permits were issued in Manhattan alone, a 9 percent increase over the previous year.
- 16,141 building permits were issued in the Bronx, a 19 percent increase over the previous year.
- 45,849 building permits were issued in Brooklyn, a 14 percent increase over the previous year.
- 34,196 building permits were issued in Queens, an 18 percent increase over the previous year.
- 8,917 building permits were issued in Staten Island, a 24 percent increase over the previous year.
- There was a 28 percent increase in new building permits and a three percent increase in the number of proposed dwelling units citywide.
Trends in Construction Incident, Injury, and Fatality Rates
With increased construction activity comes an increased risk of construction-related accidents. Fortunately, construction-related injury and fatality rates have remained relatively low despite across-the-board increases in construction activity, largely mirroring the significant decrease in 2020.
Overall, the number of NYC construction-related incidents investigated by the DOB decreased by 10 percent in 2021. But unfortunately, the number of construction injuries and fatalities increased slightly in 2021, which means the incidents that did occur often had worse outcomes.
- In 2021, there were 712 construction-related incidents throughout NYC, which resulted in 505 injuries and nine fatalities.
- That year, the number of construction-related incidents increased slightly in the Bronx and Staten Island but decreased in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
- The number of construction-related injuries increased in every borough except for Brooklyn and Queens in 2021.
- Manhattan and Brooklyn had the highest numbers of construction-related fatalities in 2021, with three each, but at least one construction-related death occurred in each borough.
- The leading causes of construction-related incidents in 2021 included worker falls (205), scaffolding issues (33), equipment issues (14), falling materials (36), and excavation issues (13).
- A staggering 78 percent of construction-related fatalities were from worker falls in 2021, and the remaining fatalities were from equipment-related incidents.
NYC Construction Safety Initiatives
In its report, the DOB highlighted numerous initiatives intended to improve safety and reduce harmful incidents throughout 2022 and beyond, including:
- Updating and revising NYC construction codes
- Conducting virtual construction safety seminars on social media
- Cracking down on inadequate fall protection measures and other safety hazards
- Supporting legislation to require better safety supervision on large sites
- Advancing licensing reform to increase accountability for general contractors
- Expanding a new database for Site Safety Training (SST)
Contact an NYC Construction Site Accident Attorney Today
Have you been injured in an NYC construction site accident? If so, you could be entitled to compensation from a personal injury claim. Contact the New York City construction site accident lawyers of The Mandel Law Firm for personalized legal attention in a free initial consultation.