You may think there are a lot of construction workers employed in New York, since out of all the occupational fatalities that occur in the state, nearly a quarter of them are construction worker deaths. That is why it is so surprising and disconcerting that construction work actually only makes up a little over 3 percent of all jobs in New York.

According to the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health’s 2015 report, 65 percent of construction workers are laboring on a scaffolding that increases the risk of harm from falling. In fact, heights play a major role in construction-related fatalities. In 2010 and 2011, data showed that almost 50 percent of fatalities involved falls to a lower level.

When looking at construction worker fatalities caused directly or indirectly by falling from heights in New York in 2012, 89 percent were found to have included serious violations at the job site when investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

When OSHA labels a safety violation as being serious, it means the violation was so significant that it put workers in danger of real physical harm or death. And this is a scary testament to the dangers construction workers in New York face on a routine basis; over the course of two years, two-thirds of the inspections conducted by OSHA resulted in serious safety violation citations.

With the majority of construction employers in New York not concerning themselves with your well-being, you must be your own advocate and the advocate of all hard-working construction workers who don a hard hat every day. Currently OSHA-issued repercussions for fatalities resulting from employers not taking safety precautions averages under $10,000. For an unscrupulous employer, the cost of taking the chance may be cheaper than the cost of taking all the necessary precautions to keep their employees safe. A New York attorney should be able to guide you in increasing that financial penalty and making even the most unethical employers choose safety.