When Tina Nguyen, a beginning real-estate agent, was struck and killed last month by a plywood board that blew off a construction fence in Greenwich Village, it seemed to be an exceedingly rare event.
Yet at least once a month on average, a passerby is injured near a New York City construction site by anything from falling bricks, hammers and glass to windblown fences and collapsing sidewalk sheds.
From 2008 through 2014, there were 96 construction accidents involving pedestrians and other passersby in New York City, resulting in 155 injuries, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of city Department of Buildings records. More than three-quarters of the accidents took place in Manhattan.
“I am always looking up,” said Gale Brewer, the borough president of Manhattan. “People should feel safe when they are walking on sidewalks, and they should not have to be looking up for random objects from above.”
The buildings department tracks and reports on construction accidents each month, but doesn’t break out those that result in injuries to bystanders. The Wall Street Journal created a separate list of these accidents, involving mainly pedestrians, but also at least four drivers or passengers in cars and taxis injured by falling debris such as planks or bricks.
In 2014, 18 construction accidents involving bystanders were reported, the most of any year since 2008, when the city began providing accident details. Twenty-two people were hurt, the third-highest annual total on record.
Some of the accidents were remarkably similar to the event that engulfed Ms. Nguyen and her family, though no one was killed. Fences were blown over or fell or otherwise struck New Yorkers 16 times, injuring 23 people.
Among those injured during the 2008-14 period were three children, including one struck in the head in 2011 by a hammer dropped by a worker on a hanging scaffold on a co-op on Riverside Drive and West 95th Street on the Upper West Side, according to the records.
The city figures don’t include dangers from glass and other objects that fell and by chance didn’t hit anyone. Three times in less than a year, glass or plexiglass fell from One57, a 1,000-foot-tall luxury hotel and tower under construction on West 57th Street, and crashed to the ground with no reported injuries.
Buildings-department statistics show that the total number of construction accidents—those involving workers but also pedestrians—is at its highest in at least seven years, as the city’s economy has brightened and the pace of construction has quickened.
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