The Department of Buildings, which regulates construction, only tracks deaths that involve violations of the city’s construction code. The agency counted 12 fatalities in 2015, including that of a woman hit on the head while walking down the street next to a job site (a violation was issued for failure to safeguard the property).
Meanwhile, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration recorded 17 construction-related fatalities in New York City, and did not include the death of the passerby.
The six fatalities that the city didn’t count include a military veteran who fell down an elevator shaft, a construction safety coordinator crushed by a crane, an ironworker who fell from a ladder and a truck driver caught in the driveshaft of his concrete mixer.
In each of the six cases, OSHA issued violations to the workers’ employers for failing to adhere to safety standards for head protection, fall protection and heat stress, among other violations. The agency slapped all of the contractors with fines of thousands of dollars.
But the Department of Buildings said the six deaths were not in its purview. The agency counts only fatalities that involve a threat to public safety—that is, to people other than construction workers.