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Safety laws aid 18% drop in construction mishaps: N.Y officials


NEW YORK—Construction-related accidents in New York dropped 18% in 2011, thanks in large part to new safety laws the city began rolling out four years ago, according to the city's Department of Buildings.

In a statement released Thursday, building Commissioner Robert LiMandri noted that construction accidents in the five boroughs dropped despite a 7.7% increase in the number of construction permits issued citywide last year. Construction-related injuries also dropped 7.8% last year, while fatalities on job sites in the city have dropped 73% since 2008.

At a press conference, Mr. LiMandri attributed the reduction in accidents and injuries to the new safety laws; tougher enforcement of existing codes; and increased cooperation among construction companies, inspectors, engineers, architects and attorneys.

“As construction work steadily increases throughout the city, accidents continue to decline—proving that industry members recognize the importance of safety on any job site,” Mr. LiMandri said. “Development is critical to this city's growth and success, but there's no reason why that work cannot be done safely.”

New York saw a 21% decline in the number of worksite falls, which accounted for about one-third of all accidents reported in 2011.

According to the city agency, the five construction-related fatalities in 2011 all were caused by improper procedures on the job site, including lack of fall protection and improper construction practices.

Beginning in 2008, New York undertook the first major revision to its construction codes in 40 years. The department has implemented more than 25 safety laws, including a citywide smoking ban at all construction sites, mandatory training for tower crane operators, and uniform identification and inspection of emergency standpipes and sprinkler systems.

The agency also opened a unit tasked specifically with addressing stalled construction sites in the city, which multiplied during the Great Recession.