72% of 2012 NYC Construction Deaths Took Place on Non-Union Work Sites

Union Ironworkers work atop One World Trade

By Chaz Bolte
WE, April 11, 2013

A new report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows that construction deaths more than tripled on NYC work sites last year with 21 workplace fatalities versus six the year before.

The sudden surge coincides with an uptick in building projects in the region and represents the most construction workplace deaths the city has seen since the recession began in 2008.  Of the 21 fatalities, eight were caused by building collapses and eight were caused by falls. Another four workers were killed from falling debris and one worker was fatally wounded from an unspecified injury.  Broken up by borough, nine of the fatalities were found in Manhattan, four in Brooklyn and Queens respectively, three in the Bronx, and one on Staten Island.

Bittersweet, a major work surge is being blamed for the higher death toll.  As Henry Robbins, a real-estate expert with Yale Robbins Inc., explained to the New York Post,

“The more activity you’ve got, the more problems you’re going to have.  It’s like the more miles on your car, the greater likelihood of an accident.”

It took the slow work period of 2009-2011 to amass 21 construction fatalities in NYC. Compare that to 2006-2008, before the collapse of the housing bubble, when 83 workplace fatalities were reported.

The OSHA report found that workplace fatalities were less common on union worksites.  Nearly three quarters of fatalities in 2012 occured on nonunion sites.

The agency’s study also showed that 72 percent of deaths in 2012 occurred on nonunion work sites, with 28 percent occurring on union sites.

“Union-construction sites are inherently safer for workers than nonunion sites,” said Louis Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers Association. “At the end of the day, the most important thing is getting our employees home to their families.”

Chaz Bolte is a native of Pittsburgh, PA where he attended Slippery Rock University. He currently contributes to WePartyPatriots, Addicting Info, Secret Party Room, and Football Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @ChazBolte
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