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Although the construction industry has long been considered a dangerous one, in New York City, it's become a particularly deadly one. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports show that more than 31 construction workers have died due to accidents on construction sites in the past two years alone.

As for what is at the heart of the epidemic? Poorly enforced safety regulations and victims being largely foreign born and undocumented seem to rise to the top.

Even though profits in the construction industry are at record highs, contractors are still failing to abide by safety regulations required by law such as nets and railings to protect workers if they fall. To add to the problem, contractors hired to complete jobs tend to be poorly trained to handle the tasks at hand as well.

OSHA, the federal agency responsible for enforcing construction site safety protocols, has fallen short in doing so due to significant staff shortages. This has been responsible for many safety violations slipping through the cracks.

As an example of this, building permits increased by 18-percent in NYC between 2011 and 2014. However, during that same time span, the number of OSHA inspectors decreased by 13 percent. The entire state of New York's OSHA inspector pool went down as low as to only 71 statewide.

With such a reduced force of OSHA inspectors, the vast majority of construction sites went without being inspected. As a result, when they eventually were, OSHA inspectors have found that 73 percent of them had at least one major violation, generally related to "fall protection" standards.

As the number of OSHA inspectors has decreased, the amount of construction injuries and fatalities has dramatically increased. In fact, between 2011 and 2015 there was a 250 percent increase in the amount of construction injuries, with the number of fatalities rising annually.

Nonunion work sites and the associated contractors have been the severest of violators. They account for 90 percent of the contractors on OSHA's "Severe Violator Enforcement Program" for New York.

Union workers, in comparison, are better protected. They have more training and participate in apprenticeship programs where they learn about safety protocols. In contrast, nonunion workers risk being fired if they refuse to work in unsafe conditions.

If you have been seriously injured as the result of a construction site accident, a New York construction workers' accident attorney can provide advice and guidance in your legal matter

Source: The New York Times, "2 years, 31 dead construction workers. New York can do better.," Dominique Bravo, accessed Feb. 17, 2017

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