New York is on pace for a record year in apartment construction in 2016, with the red-hot borough of Brooklyn leading the charge, according to a report in Forbes magazine (see: "Brooklyn Is Leading The U.S. In Apartment Construction," by Nick Fitzpatrick). Apartment data research service Axiometrics projects that Kings County, which consists of the borough of Brooklyn, will see about 6,000 units delivered in 2016 — "a huge increase from the 969 that came to market this year." The whole city is booming, analyst Fitzpatrick observed: "Brooklyn’s apartment surge is just the largest part of a New York-area apartment boom in which 24,575 new units have been identified to come to market next year."
That's good news for apartment hunters, and also for construction companies and workers. But for workers, the city's boom is a mixed bag: it comes at a price in accidents — some of them fatal. The New York Times took a look at the issue in a long report in November (see: "Safety Lapses and Deaths Amid a Building Boom in New York," by David W. Chen. "The rise in deaths and injuries [in the last two years] — mostly among undocumented immigrant laborers — far exceeds the rate of new construction over the same period," writes the Times. "It is stark evidence of the view increasingly held by safety inspectors, government officials and prosecutors, that safety measures at these job sites are woefully inadequate."
"The city’s Buildings Department keeps its own count of construction deaths, injuries and accidents, offering a broader look at safety year over year," the Times reported. "There were 10 construction-related fatalities in the most recent fiscal year, from July 2014 to July 2015, according to city figures. In contrast, the annual average over the previous four years was 5.5. Meanwhile, 324 workers were injured in the last fiscal year, a jump of 53 percent, and the Buildings Department recorded 314 accidents over all, an increase of 52 percent from the year before. The total was more than two and a half times what the city tallied in 2011. In comparison, permits for new construction projects grew by only 11 percent in the last fiscal year and permits for renovation and other work by 6 percent."
Limited manpower at all government levels makes it tough to police the construction industry, the Times reported, and there's widespread corruption and inefficiency that helps companies get away with ignoring the rules. But the paper says the city has plans to step up its safety efforts: "The de Blasio administration, concerned about safety, plans to hire about 100 additional building inspectors, and is investing in better data tools to identify and remove troublesome contractors. It has also unveiled a new code of conduct for the construction industry."