When discussions about pedestrian accidents in New York City are brought up, some may assume the topic is traffic safety. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, construction accidents are a significant source of injuries and fatalities to those on the city’s sidewalks. Tools, building materials and debris have fallen on unsuspecting bystanders and passersby 96 times over a six-year period. There were 22 bystander injuries caused by construction accidents in 2014 alone. This does not reflect the number of incidents that are not recorded because no injuries occurred.
The increased demand in the construction industry is noted as a contributing factor to the high accident statistics. When problems occur consistently, such as repeated incidents where fences fell or were blown over, the New York City Department of Buildings has the authority to update codes. In the case of fencing on and around construction sites, new standards state that they must be able to withstand winds of up to 80 miles per hour. NYC Buildings states that it is also responsible for performing inspections and holding contractors, managers and workers accountable for code violations and hazardous conditions.
The buildings department has developed a new Risk Management Office to address unsafe construction sites. Identifying contractors, professionals, owners and others who are engaging in corrupt practices or repeated code violations is one function of this department. The agency also penalizes those who disregard the regulations, and pursues litigation against them. With additional staff, more frequent inspections and updates and clarifications of codes, NYC Buildings hopes to improve safety for those on and near construction sites.