An investigation by the New York Times found that while the city has seen a building boom, that has been at the cost of safety on many construction sites. The Times found that 324 workers were injured in the last fiscal year. That number is more than two and a half times higher than injuries in 2011.
Most construction sites where workers died failed to take basic steps to prevent them from falling. Workers frequently did not wear harnesses or helmets, as required by law. Supervision was often lacking. In many of the projects, a premium was placed on speed, causing workers to take dangerous shortcuts.
The Times attributes these injuries due to an increased number of unskilled, untrained laborers that are primarily immigrants. Construction sites in the city tend to hire immigrants in order to save on labor costs. They can often pay them in cash, under the table. The immigrants working on these construction sites are often poorly trained and are worried about facing retaliation based on their legal status, and are therefore often unwilling to speak out about potential safety issues.
The deaths make clear that the city is being built, or in some cases rebuilt, heavily on the backs of recent immigrants, particularly from Latin America, most of them not authorized to work in this country.
While media coverage of these deaths is often widespread, many of the people who die at these construction sites often "die the way they lived: anonymously."
The Times, tracked several cases of abuse and mishandling on construction sites across the city. This is yet another reminder that making sure the workers in our industry are given proper safety training and that employers should look out for their workers' safety, regardless of status.