According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry was responsible for 85 percent of work site
fatalities in 2014. If that number is not shocking enough, it is estimated that construction accidents in the borough of Brooklyn are up 78 percent from 2014 to 2015.
Construction industry insiders in Brooklyn maintain that the city is to blame for not enforcing site safety guidelines and not doing enough about worker safety. For its part, Brooklyn has not pushed responsibility aside. Instead, the city council has vowed to do what it can to reduce construction accidents and preserve the lives of workers.
The Primary Safety Measures Issue
In Brooklyn, workers and union leaders say that the main reason accidents are happening is because the city is issuing building permits to companies that are not certified to have them. This is considered to be a serious charge, and it has spurred city involvement at the highest levels.
Another problem that union officials cite is that many non-union companies are continuing to work, even after they have been given an order to stop. The lack of city inspectors means that these companies can continue to work without the risk of being fined, which does very little to dissuade this practice.
Even if companies are caught working when they should not be, the penalties are not considered stiff enough to convince the companies to stop. According to union officials, non-union companies are willing to put the lives of workers at risk to generate profit, even if it means city involvement in the way of fines and penalties.
What Needs To Be Done To Stop This
The solution to the problem lies in the city’s ability to properly manage permit distribution and be able to inspect work sites regularly. While it could take some time to alter the penalties that are assessed to companies that perpetually put their worker’s in bad working conditions, increasing inspections and hitting these companies with repeated fines can act as a deterrent to help keep workers safe.
What Is Currently Being Done To Ensure Safety
While the Brooklyn council has not offered any suggestions on preventing building permits from being issued to contractors that are not up to code, there has been some movement on improving inspections. The council has recommended that at least 100 new construction inspectors be hired over the course of the year, and that these inspectors be armed with the mobile computing equipment they need in the field to do their jobs properly.
The council has indicated that, while it will attempt to maintain regular inspections on all job sites, the focus would be
on projects involving buildings that are nine stories or higher. The data indicates that there are more offenders creating dangerous working conditions in these types of buildings than any other type of working situation.
The Future Of Brooklyn
As Brooklyn’s construction boom continues the needs of the workers must be addressed immediately. Worker safety is a primary issue for union officials, and construction accidents have now taken center stage with the city council as well. With a new agenda on the table to address the rising number of construction projects going on in Brooklyn, there is hope that workers in that borough will be safe in the coming years.