New York Daily News: When Lawsuits Protect Hardhats, by Errol Louis

New York is about to embark on a historic building boom — and that has touched off a furious new round in a long-running battle about how to protect the health and safety of the workers who create the city’s glittering skyline. This month alone, two men have fallen to their deaths while working on midtown buildings under construction — a grim reminder that the skyscrapers we boast about come at a high cost, and sometimes a tragic one.

We’ll see many more projects get off the ground in the months ahead. The de Blasio administration is set to announce plans this week to rebuild areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and in early May will unveil a larger plan for building or maintaining 200,000 units of housing.

That’s a lot of work to be done — and thousands of men and women needed to engage in one of the most dangerous professions in America.

In 2011 and 2012, a staggering 1,513 construction workers died on the job nationwide, more than in any other industry, according to Public Citizen, a national think tank. Thirty-six of them were in New York City.

“You literally see people who are not making a ton of money losing their lives to grow the economy of this city,” says Josie Duffy, a policy advocate at the Center for Popular Democracy, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit group.

Click here to read Errol Louis’s full column on why New York needs to protect the Scaffold Safety Law.