Survey shows small construction sites are the most dangerous

REBNY has just completed an analysis of the most recent publicly available data on construction accidents in New York City from 2010-2014.

What the data shows goes against the grain of recent efforts to purportedly promote safety by requiring apprenticeship programs on buildings of 10 or more stories.

The data shows that this is not where the fatalities are happening.

Our analysis of nearly 1,000 accidents and fatalities reported to the Department of Buildings (DOB) over a five year period indicate that nearly 80 percent of all fatalities occurred on smaller sites – buildings under 10 stories. And over half of these fatalities – 60 percent – occurred on buildings of five stories or less.

The data plainly shows that smaller sites are more prone to safety hazards and violations. When accidents are reported, DOB is 43 percent more likely to issue safety violations to smaller sites as compared to projects of 10 or more stories.

The absence of dedicated safety personnel and stringent safety protocols in conjunction with the likelihood of less-experienced construction companies operating at smaller sites contribute, in part, to the rising trend of accidents and fatalities.

As smaller sites comprise the lion’s share of construction activity in New York City, greater focus needs to be brought to how such sites are handling of their workers and the public. This will require, in part, ensuring that DOB has the staffing and training it needs to monitor such sites.

Best practices learned from the construction industry on larger sites should and must be adapted to smaller sites.

These could include requiring the presence of dedicated safety personnel on the site; requiring workers to undergo supported scaffold and fall protection training; and adopting high wind protection plans as falling materials constitute nearly a third of all accidents on smaller sites.

REBNY is working with our partners in the construction industry to recommend an agenda of common-sense best practices that will promote the safety of workers and the public.

Construction is vital for the City’s growth as it seeks to accommodate a growing population with more housing and jobs.

But safety cannot be compromised to achieve these aims. REBNY believes that every worker should go home from the construction in the same condition that he or she arrived.