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Construction accidents up, fatalities way down in major city

Construction crews are a common sight in New Jersey, especially during spring and other fair weather months. It's easy to forget how dangerous construction jobs can be. Working at great heights and around or on unstable or pitched surfaces can increase the likelihood of construction site accidents.

New York City is likely to attract some Bergen County construction workers. The city announced a 29.3 percent jump in construction permit approvals last year over 2012.

Three construction workers died on New York City job sites in 2013, a 62.5 percent drop in fatalities from the previous year. All the workers were killed in falls. One employee was working on a poorly-installed scaffold that didn't have hand or guardrails and was missing planks.

The death rate dropped between 2012 and 2013, but the construction accident and injury rates went up. Reported accidents increased from 176 to 186 and injuries rose to 195 in 2013 from 187 in 2012. Officials think spikes were, in part, due to more accurate accident reporting.

The Department of Buildings also stepped up safety promotions and enforcement. Officials said construction work was stopped or partially halted more than 5,800 times over safety violations. The DOB announced it had prioritized and expanded safety rules and projects across the board during the last six years, from pre-planning to inspections.

The city has been trying to spread the word about the importance of fall protection. The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration reported falls were responsible for 278 deaths in 775 construction fatalities in 2012. Falls made up 36 percent of all construction workers fatalities, far and away the leading cause of death.

Claims for construction site injuries are filed largely through workers' compensation insurance. When injuries are caused by third parties, victims also have the right to file liability lawsuits for damages.

Source: Real Estate Weekly, "DOB welcomes fall in number of building site fatalities" Staff, Mar. 14, 2014

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