Tina Nguyen was struck and killed last month by a plywood board that blew off a construction fence in Greenwich Village. This is a common occurrence that occurs on average at least once a month where a passerby is injured from a New York City construction site. According to the Buildings Department statistics, 2014 had the most construction accidents in at least seven years. This increase is largely because of economic growth which has lead to increasing construction and development.
From 2008-2014 there have been 96 construction accidents involving pedestrians and other passersby resulting in 155 injuries. More than three-quarters of the accidents took place in Manhattan. These accidents include falling tools and materials, falling glass, and fences sheds and gates blowing or falling.
These figures don’t include the number of times objects fell and did not hit anyone. Three times in less than a year plexiglass fell from One57, a luxury 1,000 foot-tall hotel and tower under construction on West 57th Street, with no reported injuries.
A building code revision in 2014 requires that construction fences by built to withstand 80-mile-per-hour winds. The building fence that struck Ms. Nguyen was in compliance with the code at that time, but would not have been after the 2014 revision. The Department of Buildings has a squad of safety inspectors who routinely check large construction sites to inspect for risk. Between 2009 and 2012, New York City reduced the number of inspections it performed by 40%.
Many construction contractors are inexperienced and/or have poorly trained workers who make mistakes. Even the city’s largest construction contractors appear in the city’s accident database.
Far more construction workers are hurt than pedestrians. 231 construction accidents were reported last year involving 237 injuries and 8 deaths.
Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP has extensive experience handling construction accidents involving workers and pedestrians. Contact us at (212) 983-3000 for a free consultation.