It turns out that it is safer to be a construction worker on a skyscraper than on a shorter building. According to a report in Commercial Observer, the safety measures utilized on major buildings that are 10 stories or more are much more stringent than the those put on minor buildings (less than 10 stories), and historically this has resulted in more fatal accidents on shorter building projects:
“From 2010 to 2015, there were 1,446 accidents on construction sites, resulting in 40 deaths, and 75 percent of those fatalities happened in buildings with less than 10 stories, according to a 2016 report by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)”
Although accidents happen on both tall and short building projects, safety violations are more likely to accompany accidents on minor projects because of the lack of safety oversight. The law regarding minor building projects does not necessitate site safety plans, a dedicated safety coordinator or site safety manager, and does not require that the construction workers undergo any sort of safety training.
“Most people are not aware that [for] projects under 10 stories, the New York City building code doesn’t require any safety plans, no safety training for workers and the latest law only requires a part-time super that is obligated to be onsite daily to do one inspection and walk-through and write a daily log.”
On minor buildings, the one tasked with ensuring safety is the superintendent. The superintendent on these projects has a host of responsibilities and sometimes safety, being at odds with productivity, gets overlooked. The proper safety measure aren't being taken to prevent accidents and many times, despite fines of up to 25,000 dollars, the reporting of accidents isn't happening.
“You have more accidents that are not reported from smaller buildings,” Charlton, who also co-founded site safety manager networking site Safety Coverage, said. “A site safety manager is mandated to report accidents, anything where someone gets hurt or [requires] medical attention. [But] without a site safety manager a lot of the stuff does get swept under the rug.”
In an attempt to address safety concerns in New York City and reduce fatalities, a package of 18 bills has been put together, called the “Construction Safety Act.” One of the bills would require site safety plans for construction projects under 10 stories, but other than that, it doesn’t seem as if a whole lot is being done to target minor building projects.
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