The Hazards Facing Construction Workers


Kelly Castillo

The hazards facing construction workers in New York City have been a longstanding concern due to the significant number of construction projects and the inherent risks associated with the industry. Over the years, there have been numerous incidents that have even led to the deaths of construction workers in the city. Falls from heights remain one of the leading causes of death for construction workers in New York City. Many construction sites involve working at elevated levels, and a lack of proper fall protection or compliance with safety protocols can lead to tragic accidents.


“One of the biggest dangers construction workers face is the risk of accidents from falls from heights. The very nature of construction work often involves working on elevated structures, such as scaffolding, ladders, or roofs. Lack of proper protection against falls, unstable or slippery surfaces, as well as a lack of safety training, can significantly increase the danger of falls and the resulting injuries, which can be serious or even fatal,” said Maycol Sanchez.

Construction workers face a number of hazards due to the very nature of their work. These hazards include falls from heights, being struck and struck by moving objects, being trapped and crushed by heavy machinery, exposure to hazardous substances, repetitive motion injuries, and adverse work conditions. These causes can lead to serious injury, illness or even death. It is critical to implement proper safety measures and provide training to ensure the protection of construction workers. According to Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, “nearly 5,000 people die each year from workplace incidents, 20% of deaths in the workplace are due to construction accidents.” Approximately half of construction accident deaths occur due to falls and death after receiving severe blows.

Construction work can suffer a wide range of damage, both in terms of human and material losses. Damage in the construction industry can include accidents and serious injuries to workers, ranging from falls from heights, being struck by moving objects, entrapment, or exposure to hazardous substances.  According to Jordan Castillo, head of a construction site in The Bronx, “An effective way to improve the safety of construction workers is to foster a culture of safety in the workplace. This means creating an environment where safety is a priority at all stages of the project and for everyone involved, from employers to workers. By focusing on creating a strong safety culture, you can promote shared responsibility and ensure a safer work environment for all workers.” These incidents can result in permanent disability, loss of life, and significant emotional impact on families and colleagues. Additionally, property damage can range from structural collapses to project delays and additional costs. Safety and the proper implementation of prevention measures are essential to minimize damage and protect both workers and construction projects.

Immigrant people who work in the construction industry in New York City play a critical role in the industry. These workers come from various parts of the world and bring a wide range of skills and knowledge to construction in the city. Their dedication, work ethic, and willingness to take on physically demanding jobs have contributed to the growth and development of NYC. Immigrant construction workers in NYC often face unique challenges, such as language barriers and limited access to labor rights. 


Fernando Saldaña, an immigrant construction worker, tells us that several months ago his cousin Alex suffered a severe fall from a scaffold while he was doing painting work on a building in Manhattan, which almost caused his death. He was not wearing a safety harness and fell from a considerable height, causing multiple serious spinal injuries. He had to undergo surgeries and face a long rehabilitation process to recover. Alex went through ugly circumstances, his life had a strong change, he did not have that much money since he had barely arrived in NYC two weeks ago, a solidarity aid was made since the person who hired him was not responsible and did not want to help him. However, the presence and contribution of immigrant construction workers has been vital for the transformation of the urban landscape and the construction of the emblematic skyscrapers, houses and infrastructure works of the city. The diversity and immigrant workforce in the construction of NYC are a reflection of the cultural richness and entrepreneurial spirit that characterize this city.