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Construction fatalities rise as the number of site-safety inspectors decrease

The number of available site-safety inspectors continues to decrease while the death rate of workers at construction sites increase.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), eighteen construction workers died during the last federal fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015) at New York City job sites. That’s an increase from 12 during the previous fiscal year and seven from the year prior to that.

There were nine workers that died due to falls where safety measures were not in place at the job sites. Improperly braced walls crushed several workers and unsecured steel trusses fell on top of another worker.

Several city contractors report there are more site-safety managers retiring than there are entering the profession. In 2011 there were 1,171 available inspectors which decreased six percent to 1,105 in 2014. The number of building permits increased 18% from 121,000 in 2011 to 142,000 in 2013.

This puts workers and even pedestrians at a greater risk for site related accidents or even death. With the decrease in the availability of site-safety inspectors, the prices they charge have increased significantly. A few contractors told NY Daily News that due to the scarcity of inspectors, many safety managers are coming out of retirement but are more sedentary versus patrolling the construction sites and enforcing safety regulations. There’s also a lack of continuity because many inspectors leave for better paying jobs in the middle on an ongoing project.

Competent, accessible safety inspectors are important, although sometimes their warnings get ignored and then tragedy strikes. This was definitely the case when 22 year old worker, Carlos Moncayo was buried alive when he was digging a 14 foot trench and it collapsed on him back in early April of this year.

OSHA discovered that the workers destabilized the sidewalk above them while they were digging the pit, and a basic safety feature, a brace, was not in place to protect them.

A safety inspector had warned the contractor a week before, a day before and even minutes before the collapse that the job was unsafe. Putting proper safety measures in place could have saved Moncayo’s life.

It is important to understand your rights following a construction accident. Whether you are an injured worker or a family member mourning the loss of a loved one, our legal team is here to help. The New York construction accident lawyers at The Perecman Firm, have the knowledge, skill, and experience to help you resolve your case and help you to recover maximum compensation for your injuries.


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