- New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and 17 other council members said they will begin oversight hearings to determine what safety regulation changes are needed for the city’s construction industry after an uptick in worker deaths.
- Currently, the city’s Department of Buildings does not track or investigate deaths that are not associated with a building code violation. This resulted in last year’s DOB fatality statistics representing only about one-third of actual construction-related deaths, according to Crain's New York.
- NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the federal government reports the deaths that are not included in DOB oversight.
In September, trade unions drew attention to the fact that the DOB’s fatality numbers didn’t match up with actual city construction deaths. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration counted 17 construction-related deaths in New York last year, but the DOB logged only six because the others were not associated with building code violations.
OSHA issued 15 serious violations on city job sites last year, and Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said 14 of those cases were nonunion. Nonunion groups have defended their safety record by suggesting that the increase in nonunion jobsite deaths is because nonunion crews have added more work in the city, not because their workers are less safe.
According to a New York Daily News look at DOB data, there were 433 accidents and 471 injuries on construction sites in 2015, double the number recorded in 2014. In October, Jumaane Williams, chair of New York City's Committee on Housing and Buildings, called on the DOB to classify construction safety accidents and violations as either union or nonunion in order to determine if union assertions of superior safety are justified.
Although the DOB has taken heat about the way it tracks accidents, it has increased enforcement measures. The agency handed out 23% more stop-work orders in the first six months of this year than it did from January to June of 2015. The DOB also issued nearly three times as many stop-work orders than it did new construction permits from 2012 to 2016.
And spurred on by the April 2015 death of 22-year-old immigrant worker Carlos Moncayo in a trench collapse as well as other safety incidents and heightened construction, the Manhattan District Attorney's office formed a construction fraud task force, which focuses on corruption and unsafe practices among the city's construction companies.