Being a construction worker in New York City is becoming more deadly, according to new reports from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Amid a building boom in New York, construction worker accident related deaths are up 87% since 2005.
As the NY Times reported earlier this year on construction deaths, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already taken some positive health and safety inspection measures to stem work related scaffold and ladder accidents in New York City. However, it appears that part of the problem involves the intractable immigration crisis.
Many shady construction general contractors and sub-contractors are hiring non-union undocumented workers who are not given adequate safety training or equipment. As can be expected, the death toll is falling disproportionately on Latino construction workers. This is because the percentage of Latin and Mexican construction workers are growing by leaps and bounds. In addition, immigrants from India, Poland and other Eastern European countries are increasing on non-union (i.e., less safe) work sites.
The workers’ compensation lawyers at Turley, Redmond & Rosasco have unfortunately witnessed the impact of construction accident deaths on families first hand. Hopefully, the issue of immigrant construction worker safety in NYC will be studied by the newly confirmed Chair of the NY Workers’ Compensation Board, Zachary S Weiss. As Governor Spitzer so correctly notes, we cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend these immigrant workers do not exist. These are real human beings who are dying almost every day, sometimes due to employer greed trying to avoid paying union wages. Let us not build our gleaming New York City skyline on a foundation of blood.