Construction Worker Deaths Fell in NYC in 2007

October 10, 2008

Construction deaths fell by nearly half in New York City last year after spiking the year before, according to a federal report released Monday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics figures came amid heightened concern about construction safety after a spate of deadly accidents this year. Roughly 20 construction workers have died in accidents citywide this year, approaching last year’s total of 24, most of them killed in falls.

The 2007 total shrank from a high of 43 in 2006, the city construction industry’s deadliest year in at least a decade. The 2006 toll was up 87 percent from the previous year, and it came as construction deaths rose just 3 percent nationally.

This year’s deadly accidents included two crane collapses that killed nine people, one of them a passing tourist. The rest were construction workers.

Recently, a worker fell about 40 stories to his death at a Manhattan skyscraper being built by the developer of the World Trade Center.

The city’s buildings commissioner resigned under pressure in April, and dozens of new construction safety rules have been added as a result of the recent accidents. On Monday, the city Buildings Department overhauled licensing rules for workers who operate mobile cranes, a type smaller than those that collapsed.

Overall, 81 workers in various industries died from on-the-job injuries in the city last year, the fewest work-related deaths since record keeping began 16 years ago, according to the statistics bureau.

The overall figure includes suicides, falls, exposures to caustic substances and homicides. At 15, homicides were the second-most frequent cause of workplace deaths, after falls, which fell 33 percent, from 31 to 21. On-the-job suicides doubled from six to 12.

The overall total fell 18 percent, down from 99 deaths in 2006. Nationally, the number is also down, from 5,840 to 5,488.

The figures are considered preliminary. Final results will be released in April, the bureau said.

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