2011-05-13 / Top Stories

City Urges Workers To Use Fall Protection

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri has announced the launch of a new citywide safety campaign to encourage construction workers to use proper fall protection while working on a job site. The multi-lingual campaign, entitled “Experience Is Not Enough,” is designed to emphasize that all workers must use proper fall protection, such as safety harnesses, guardrails and netting, of how long they have worked in the construction trades and how much experience they possess. A worker falling is the most common construction-related accident in New York City, representing 42 percent of all accidents reported to the Department in 2010. Since 2008, 16 construction workers have lost their lives due to the lack of basic fall protection. In February, two ironworkers, ages 49 and 51, were killed when they fell approximately 65 feet while installing a steel beam at a job site on West 83 Street in Manhattan. Department investigators determined safety harnesses were on site at the time of the accident, but they were not being used.

LiMandri made the announcement at the Department’s Build Safe/Live Safe conference at New York University, the kickoff event for the 7th Annual Construction Safety Week, where 250 industry members and government regulators gathered to discuss the latest building trends in the City. To commemorate Construction Safety Week, the Empire State Building will be lit in orange and white, the colors of the “Experience Is Not Enough” campaign.

As a part of the new campaign, thousands of posters and banners will be distributed to construction sites throughout the City, including materials translated into Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Polish languages. Department staffers will be distributing bracelets at job sites in the coming days as a helpful reminder to workers.

“Experience alone does not make you invincible,” said LiMandri. “A worker falling is a tragic accident that can be easily prevented, and this new campaign reminds workers and their supervisors to take steps in order to protect themselves, their colleagues and the public. No matter how many years you have worked in construction, you can lose your life if the appropriate safety measures are not in place.”

In the first quarter of 2011, construction related accidents declined 56 percent – from 41 to 18 – when compared to the same period in 2010. During that period, there have been three construction related fatalities. In 2010, there were 157 reported construction-related accidents compared to 218 in 2009. The decline in accidents is due in part to new laws, stricter enforcement and increased industry outreach leading to more safety awareness among members. Of the 157 accidents, 66 involved a worker falling at a job site. There were four construction-related fatalities in 2010 – all of which involved workers who fell during construction operations due to a lack of proper fall protection measures, as required by law.

Since 2008, the Department has implemented more than 25 new laws to increase overall construction safety, including increased standpipe inspections, a smoking ban on construction sites and new training for tower crane workers. The Department also has formed new specialized units to increase its oversight, such as the Concrete Unit which audits concrete-testing work and the Stalled Sites Unit which inspects stalled construction sites to ensure they are maintained in a safer manner. In 2009, the Department launched its first safety campaign that distributed thousands of posters, brochures and banners to construction sites and worker centers across the City.

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