It has long been known that construction is a dangerous industry. This is particularly true in New York City, where new skyscrapers seem to go up every day and workers are constantly needed to maintain older buildings. Statistics issued by the Department of Buildings (DOB) though, shows just how deadly construction in the city is becoming. According to the agency, construction fatalities soared in 2018, jumping 13 percent from the year prior. In total, 2018 saw 761 construction-related deaths compared with 671 in 2017.
“It is important that family members of these lost workers understand that in New York City, they may still be eligible to collect workers’ compensation,” says Attorney Neal Goldstein of Goldstein & Bashner. “The fatality of workers also means a loss of income for the household. In many cases, that income was the main income. Families need a way to recoup that income, particularly when faced with additional expenses such as funeral and burial costs.”
Many are alleging the increase is due to construction workers not taking part in the mandated 40 hours of safety training passed in a 2017 law. Construction workers are required to complete these courses by September of 2020. Some say the death toll rising on construction sites is an indication that workers are not taking part in these courses.
However, those that point to this as the reason are not considering the fact that construction workers still have over a year to complete these courses. When it comes to workers’ compensation, family members are also reminded that even if their loved one had not yet taken the course, this also would not affect a workers’ compensation death claim. This is because workers still have time to complete their training and regardless of that fact, workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance in New York.
The more likely reason for the deaths is that New York’s City Council merely is not doing enough to protect workers. The bill requiring the safety courses was the only one passed in 2017 when construction deaths were already on a steady incline. New legislation seems like a much more positive answer than blaming workers that have been injured or killed on a job site for not yet completing the safety course training.