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Report: Workers are more at risk on non-union construction sites

Everyone knows construction is a dangerous gig. Whether you are working with heavy machinery or high atop scaffolding, there are dangers everywhere -- and many of them are deadly.

However, while virtually every construction site has its own share of hazards, a report issued earlier this year highlights that workers on non-union construction sites may be at greater risk when compared to other construction workers.

Details of the 'Deadly Skyline' Report

According to this report, which was issued by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), there were an alarming 71 construction workers killed in New York State in 2016. Not only was this a record number, but the report also stated that the fatal injury rate among construction workers has increased 29.5 percent over the last five years.

What is particularly worrisome is the link this report found between many of these deaths and non-union construction sites. For example:

  • 94.7 percent of all construction fatalities investigated by OSHA in New York State in 2016, and which occurred on private worksites, involved non-union construction sites
  • 93.8 percent of all construction fatalities investigated by OSHA in New York City in 2016, and which occurred on private worksites, involved non-union construction sites

Why are non-union sites more dangerous?

This is not an easy question to answer. Some believe that union employees simply have more training, meaning they are more likely to spot a potential issue and address it before it causes an injury.

Alternatively, others think that the problem lies in the fact that non-union construction workers are less likely to report dangerous conditions. For example, many non-union sites employ immigrant workers who may be afraid to report problems on the worksite due to fear of losing their job or of being reported to immigration authorities.

Regardless of the reasons for the disparities between union and non-union sites, however, every worker should be safe while doing their job. And just because a construction worker is employed on a non-union construction site doesn't mean the worker deserves dangerous conditions. Simply put, they deserve protection too.

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