WHEN WORD CAME in late May of a construction crane collapse in Manhattan, the reaction was a wrenching “Not again.” It was the city's second fatal crane accident in 10 weeks. But the awful news is not unique to the Big Apple: In June, a Las Vegas construction crew walked off the City-Center jobsite to protest terrible safety conditions; six workers had been killed on the site over the previous 18 months, as had five other workers at other projects on the Strip. Building officials nationwide scrambled in the wake of the New York accident to evaluate the safety standards on their own sites. In Washington, D.C., emergency inspections were ordered on each of the city's 40 licensed cranes in operation, and three cranes were removed from operation in Washington state after inspectors found electrical flaws. But crane accidents aren't the only dangers facing construction workers; falls, fires, chemical exposures, and other risks confront these crews every day. All told, in 2006 construction was the top U.S. industry for on-the-job fatalities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1,226 The total number of fatal construction-work injuries in 2006. Falls are the top cause of construction-related deaths.
82 The average number of annual crane-related deaths from 1997 to 2006.
7 tons The weight of a section of crane that fell 30 stories in Miami earlier this year. The accident killed two workers and injured five others.
1971 The last year OSHA updated its crane-safety rules. New standards were to take effect this month, but on June 1, the agency announced its decision not to publish the new rules except under “extraordinary” circumstances.
60% The amount of 1997–2006 crane deaths that were the result of a worker being electrocuted or struck by a moving load.
16 The number of New York City construction deaths in the first half of 2008, which has already surpassed 2007's total of 12 fatalities.