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When it comes to construction safety, does size matter?

Are you a New York hardhat working on big and small construction projects? You might think your biggest projects are the most dangerous. After all, they're higher up, there are more chances of people and equipment falling, and more things that could go wrong.

Looser safety regulations for short buildings

Safety regulations for buildings under 10 stories tend to be less strict in comparison to buildings that are 10 stories and up. This translates into shorter building projects being significantly more dangerous. Let's take a look at some of the laxer requirements of short buildings:

  • No onsite manager: Short buildings don't need an on-site safety manager or safety specialist, which is a professional contractor licensed to oversee building project safety. They just have a licensed superintendent who monitors project safety among many other duties like productivity, workflow, organizing venders and managing logistics. Some say that the multiple hats worn by a short building project superintendent create a conflict of interest. Does this person want to save money, or does this person want to keep workers safe?
  • No safety plans: Short buildings don't need site safety plans. In-depth safety plans are required for any major building project that is 10 stories and up.
  • No OSHA training: Workers at short building construction sites don't require 10 hours of safety training from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

What do fatal injury statistics say?

In a 2016 report by the Real Estate Board of New York compiled from data from the Department of Buildings, the organization reported that 1,446 construction accidents happened between 2010 through 2015. These accidents caused a total of 40 deaths.

As for whether shorter building projects are more deadly than taller building projects, 75 percent of fatal incidents happened at building projects under 10 stories. As for receiving safety violation citations after an accident, shorter buildings have a 51 percent higher chance of getting a safety citation.

According to the executive vice president of Construction and Realty Services Group, a company that offers inspection, design and consulting to general contractors, the lax safety requirements at short buildings just aren't "good enough" to keep workers safe. He suggests that safety training should be a requirement for all workers, and every project should have safety oversight and safety planning to receive a permit.

The executive vice president also mentioned the problem of having a superintendent that must oversee safety at the same time as he or she is overseeing job site productivity. These two roles are by their very nature conflicting.

Did you get hurt in a construction accident?

New York construction workers should remember that smaller, shorter building projects are not safer than their larger counterparts. They should also remember that if a construction accident happens, and they suffer a serious injury, financial help may be available by filing a workers' compensation claim. Injured workers can speak with a New York workers' compensation lawyer to determine the most appropriate strategy for seeking the highest amount of workers' compensation benefits available.

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