Don’t Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
Sep
2015
2

Rising Injury Rates, Latest Worker Death Renew Safety Concerns on Non-Union NYC Sites

"The reality is non-union developers simply put their bottom line ahead of the safety of their workers" -- Labarbera

“The reality is non-union developers simply put their bottom line ahead of the safety of their workers” — Labarbera


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Just days after a worker fell 30 feet down an elevator shaft to his death in Manhattan, the City Department of Buildings released figures showing that construction injuries jumped 34 percent in the previous fiscal year.  The Department of Buildings issued two violations at the non-union construction site after placing a stop work order and conducting an investigation.  General contract BRF Construction was found to have failed to safeguard the site and the concrete safety manager was cited for failing to provide a log book.

The tragic event was similar to recent incidents in the city, which is experiencing a construction boom.  In response to construction growth, the Department of Buildings is hiring over 100 new inspectors. Their figures show much can be done to create safer workplaces in New York:

Construction-related injuries rose by 34 percent, from 211 in Fiscal Year 2014 to 283 in F.Y. 2015, which ended June 30, according to agency statistics. There had been 187 injuries each year in F.Y. 2012 and 2013, 128 in F.Y. 2011 and 206 in F.Y. 2010, the annual Mayor’s Management Report shows.

Fatalities at construction sites nearly doubled in the past year, from six to 11. There were four each year in F.Y. 2010 and 2011, seven in F.Y. 2012 and five the following year.

BRF Construction was fined $12,000 earlier this year when the Department of Buildings spotted a worker who climbed a 20-foot rebarred wall without a harness.  In a phone interview with Politico, City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who chairs the housing and buildings committee, said of the incident and the new data:

“I think there was an expectation that there might be an increase with the increase of construction. I don’t know that we necessarily accept that philosophy, and we shouldn’t.  What’s frustrating to me is that some of the accidents are similar, and we should be learning from the mistakes and ensuring that companies that do business with New York City are putting safety first.  I think people are trying to cut corners.”

Touching on BRF Construction’s latest violation, Williams stated that he did not believe the city should issue permits to companies with repeat violations.

“It seems to me that we don’t have the tools necessary to hold these companies’ feet to the fire.  We have to get the tools so that we can demand that safety come first — not money.”

BRF Construction was previously cited on a hotel being built at 577 Ninth Avenue.  That project is also being done non-union.   Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said all workplace fatalities must be equally mourned, but added that non-union contractors are known to cut corners and put workers in peril:

“We mourn the death of any construction worker. This accident was preventable and underscores the need for construction safety and proper worker training to be a priority for the city and the real estate and development community.  The reality is non-union developers simply put their bottom line ahead of the safety of their workers, and this must end before we see even more senseless accidents and fatalities.”

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