New York, NY – The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) recently announced the release of the 2023 edition of its “Deadly Skyline” report which highlights fatality trends in New York’s construction industry and makes recommendations on how the state and city can make worksites safer for construction workers.
This year’s report is based on 2021 data, the most recent data available by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (DOL BLS). The report covers the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York State after the shutdown of construction sites due to COVID ended.
NYCOSH has been advocating for timely and accurate tracking of construction worker fatalities since this report was first published in 2014. In February 2022, the Workplace Fatalities Registry bill, sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos in the Senate (S8828) and Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa (A5965A), was implemented. The legislation requires employers to submit key information to the New York State Department of Labor when a construction worker dies on the job, including the date of the incident and the cause of death. This information is now available to the public via a searchable database and is referenced in the report.
Key Findings included:
New York State’s construction industry remained highly dangerous for workers in 2021, and fatality numbers peaked.
The number of construction workers who died in New York State increased drastically, from 41 deaths in 2020 to 61 deaths in 2021 — a 49% increase.
New York City’s construction fatality numbers spiked.
Twenty construction workers died in 2021, compared to 13 in 2020 — a 54% increase.
The construction fatality rate increased substantially in New York City and slightly in New York State.
New York City’s rate increased from 7 deaths per 100,000 in 2020 to 11.2 per 100,000 in 2021, a 60% increase. New York State’s rate increased from 11.1 per 100,000 in 2020 to 12.1 per 100,000 in 2021, a 9% increase.
Non-union job sites remained especially dangerous for workers.
NYCOSH analyzed OSHA’s 39 construction fatality investigations in 2021 and found that in New York State, 82% of workers who died on private worksites were non-union. In the 15 OSHA-investigated sites in New York City, 80% of the construction workers who died were non-union.
Latinx workers were more likely to die on the job in NYS in 2021.
Latinx workers make up a disproportionately high percentage of worker fatalities in New York. An estimated 10% of New York State’s workers are Latinx, but in 2021, 25.5% of worker fatalities were Latinx workers — a 42% percent increase from 18% in 2020.
OSHA construction fines for fatality cases continued to increase.
The average fine amount in 2021 was $67,681, up from $44,779 in 2020.
OSHA continued to conduct fewer inspections than pre-pandemic numbers.
OSHA conducted 2,568 inspections in 2021, an increase from 2,080 in 2020, but a 42% decrease from pre-pandemic numbers (2019).
OSHA continued to issue fewer press releases in 2021. e
OSHA’s press releases have steadily declined for the past five years; they released 58 press releases in 2016 and just 13 in 2022. Pre-pandemic (2019), they issued 21.
Contractors’ OSHA violations coincide with construction worker fatalities, but violations do not prevent contractors from receiving government subsidies.
NYCOSH analyzed OSHA-inspected construction fatality cases in New York State in 2021 and found that on job sites where workers have died, employers had coinciding OSHA violations 96% of the time.
Read the free report: NYCOSH: 2023 Deadly Skyline Report