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Construction death toll continues to rise despite year of safety reviews

The number of construction workers killed on the job in 2017 hit nine this week, after a worker died at a job site in Chelsea on Monday.

34-year-old Przemyskaw Krawczyk was struck on the head by a piece of metal that fell from scaffolding at 61 Ninth Avenue December 18. He was found unresponsive at the site and taken to Lenox Hill Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The building at 61 Ninth Avenue, owned by Aurora Capital Associates and Vornado Realty Trust, has received multiple violations from the DOB, according to public records. One ECB violation dated September 16 said the site had failed to implement safety equipment measures, and that at the time of inspection, there were no safety measures in place at the 10-story building.

Aurora and Vornado are developing 145,000 s/f of office space with a 20,000 s/f ground-floor retail space at the site.
Since January, nine construction workers have been killed in accidents at job sites in New York City, according to data from the Department of Buildings (DOB). In 2016, 12 workers died, the same number as in 2015; and there were eight deaths in 2014.

In the decade beginning in 2006 and ending in 2015, 464 construction workers died while on the job across New York State according to the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.

Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York president Gary LaBarbera said in a press release that the most recent death was another reminder that job sites need to be safer.

“Construction is a dangerous industry, yet once again, today’s accident underscores the need to ensure all sites are safe for workers and the public alike,” said LaBarbera on Monday.

After a stream of construction worker deaths in the last few years, the industry called for more safety training on job sites, which led to the creation of the Intro 1447 bill which was signed into law in October.

Supporters of the bill include Greater New York LECET, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, and the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. However, REBNY opposed the legislation, saying that the bill failed to address key concerns.

REBNY president John Banks argued that the bill was created with too much political rhetoric and not enough analysis of data about where accidents were occurring and why. Banks said the additional training that Intro 1447 would require would ultimately exclude non-union workers, many of whom are immigrants and people of color. “The first concern is simple: does New York City have the adequate capacity to train up to 120,000 non-union construction workers? The answer to this question is just a simple — no,” REBNY President John Banks said in October.

“Many of the up to 120,000 workers will be left at risk of not getting a contractor to pay for their training. With no sponsorship and insufficient public funding, these workers will need to pay for training out of their own pockets in order to keep working.”

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