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New York City Work Fatalities Drop Greatly in 2009

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The number of fatal construction-related accidents in New York City decreased in 2009 by 84% over the previous year. Three fatalities were reported in 2009 compared to 19 in 2008, 12 in 2007 and 18 in 2006, according to the New York City Dept. of Buildings. Though DOB reports show that permits issued for major construction decreased 33% in 2009, building department officials believe fatal construction-related accidents decreased by a far greater margin due to the department’s expanded enforcement powers, increased oversight of high-risk construction operations and new safety awareness programs. “While the tough economic times have slowed down construction, more contractors, developers and licensed professionals are integrating safety into their practices, and this city is a safer place for it,” says Commissioner Robert LiMandri. The total number of nonfatal construction-related accidents and injuries rose in 2009, but the increase is primarily due to more accident reporting by industry members, according to the reports. In 2009, two construction-related fatalities were tied to a worker falling. In both cases, the victims had not properly used a required harness. In 2008, eight of the 19 construction-related fatalities were caused by a worker falling, prompting the department to launch a safety campaign targeting construction sites across the city, encouraging workers to wear their safety harnesses. Nine of the deaths in 2008 were the result of two major crane collapses in Manhattan.

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