Dept of Buildings Releases 2023 New York City Construction Safety Report

Image credit: Department of Buildings.

On May 6, 2024, the Department of Buildings released the annual New York City Construction Safety Report, which provides a comprehensive analysis of construction safety trends for 2023. The report’s release is part of the agency’s recognition of Construction Safety Week.

In 2023, the Department of Buildings conducted over 370,000 field inspections, more total inspections than ever, but issued fewer violations and Stop Work Orders than the past several years. Thirty-one percent fewer Stop Work Orders and 18 percent fewer OATH violations were issued compared to the prior year. In addition, building construction-related fatalities citywide are at the lowest in nearly a decade; there were seven deaths in 2023 compared to fourteen in 2019. 

The report did note that while fatalities were down, worksite injuries continued to rise for the third year in a row, increasing by 25 percent compared to 2022. While there were 752 incidents and 554 injuries in 2022, there were 841 incidents and 692 injuries in 2023. The agency considers an “injury” as any time a worker receives off-site medical attention because of an incident, regardless of the severity of the injury. Many of the injuries were not connected to related safety violations. The data shows that there was a large increase in ladder falls, stair falls and tripping incidents, with a fourteen percent increase in these types of incidents. The agency will continue to investigate these changes to determine what else can be done to make work sites safer. 

With these changes, overall construction activity has remained generally consistent with previous years. Total permits issued for all projects decreased by three percent, but initial permits for new buildings projects increased by 28 percent. Initial demolition permits decreased by seven percent from 2022, but still remained higher than 2020 and 2021. 

As part of Construction Safety Week, Buildings personnel will conduct spot inspections and speak with workers about worksite safety. The agency will also reach out to licensees and registrants citywide about best safety practices. 

Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo stated, “This Construction Safety Week let’s challenge ourselves, as an industry and a regulatory agency, to join together in redoubling their efforts to keep construction workers safe on the job site. Collectively, we should be proud of the collaborative work done in 2023 to drive down building construction-related fatalities, but there is still so much work to do because even one death is too many. Our annual Construction Safety Report underscores the progress made in enhancing compliance and promoting worksite safety, while also serving as a potent reminder about the tragic consequences when corners are cut and safety regulations are ignored.”

Carlo A. Scissura, Esq., President and CEO of the New York Building Congress, stated, “New York’s construction workforce is responsible for building our city from the ground up and deserves to know how safe their workplaces are. We applaud the NYC Department of Buildings for prioritizing transparency on behalf of the thousands of skilled tradespeople who now have more information on what can be improved to keep them safe and healthy.”

Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building Construction Trades Council (BCTC) of Greater New York stated, “Construction workers on any project deserve to work in a healthy and stable environment, and safety is and should remain the top priority on all job sites. While the decrease in construction-related fatalities is a positive, there is still improvement to be made to ensure that all tradesmen and tradeswomen throughout the city have the opportunity to pursue the middle class and return home safely to their families at the end of each workday. BCTC remains committed to working with the Department of Buildings and other industry partners to promote safety measures across every project and increase the accessibility of apprenticeships and training programs that will equip our members with the skills and awareness necessary to avoid injuries while on the job.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)




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