In late April New York celebrated Workers’ Memorial Day. On April 28, each year, people stop to remember the workers who were killed on the job the previous year. Not only is it a time for people to grieve, but it is also a time for people to call for an end to deadly workplace accidents.

A new report was released to coincide with the day of remembrance. This report — published by the New York Central Labor Council and the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health — stated that the largest number of workplace deaths occurred among construction workers in 2012.

The report also stated that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration only had 71 inspectors in New York which was the lowest level in the last five years. With this number of inspectors it would take OSHA over 100 years to inspect every workplace in the state. Furthermore, the report claimed that the average fine for a business with workplace safety violations was only $12,767 which was not enough to deter businesses from risky behavior.

In particular, the report claimed that immigrant construction workers were placed in the most danger — half of the construction workers killed in construction accidents in 2012 were immigrants. The report called for more inspectors — particularly those that spoke a second language — throughout the state, increased federal programs to highlight safety issues among immigrant construction workers and changes to New York state law.

While this report made it clear that changes need to be made to keep construction workers safe in New York, workers need to know about their legal rights right now. Under current laws workers’ compensation may be available to help workers that are injured on the job. This compensation can also help families of workers who have been killed.

Source: Real Estate Weekly, “Call for more oversight, money to protect workers,” May 2, 2014