Construction-related deaths and injuries are soaring in New York City, and an overwhelming number of victims are recent immigrants who feel outsized pressure to keep working and even forge their identification for fear if losing potential income on non-union construction sites, according to a new in-depth NY Times investigation.

Many of the immigrants who have recently died in construction-related accidents were undocumented, and therefore more likely to be untrained, paid in cash, and discouraged from speaking up about unsafe working conditions.

The paper reviewed every construction-related fatality in the five boroughs over the last two years, and found that "many" could have been easily avoided—often, workers did not wear harnesses or helmets while working on building exteriors. Deaths and injuries have also been concentrated in gentrified neighborhoods like Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.

"He told me, 'It's a miracle we're alive,'" said Lourdes Gordillo, the widow of 32-year-old Claudio Patiño who died after falling through a hole in the floor while renovating a connected five-story walkup at 124 Ridge Street on the Lower East Side last December. According to Gordillio, Patiño had been nervous about the slipperiness of the construction site as winter approached, but had felt pressure to keep working.

Patiño had been working for Casur Management & Maintenance, a building contractor from Long Island that had been fined $2,400 that August for "no guardrail around opening" at 124 Ridge Street. OSHA warned Casur at the time that "a person could fall."

In April, Gurmeet Singh was doing facade work at the Dream Hotel on 55th Street in Midtown, without guardrail support, when he fell eight stories onto a sidewalk shed and died. Thirteen years before his death, Singh had moved to the US from India on a tourist visa. From the Times:

The boss said: ‘Can you just finish this job? I’ll give you $10,000 and a free ticket to India,’” his other daughter, Palwinder Kaur, said in a telephone interview from India.

The NY Times reports that seven workers have died on construction sites since July, three of whom died over the course of nine days in late summer.

A 30-year-old worker fell down an elevator shaft to his death at a construction site in Hell's Kitchen in August. Earlier this year, a construction worker at the Barclays Center was fatally struck by falling beams. Trevor Loftus, 40, was struck and killed by a malfunctioning crane in Midtown later that month. In May, a worker tumbled down a 24-story elevator shaft at the site of the future luxury Riu Hotel at Times Square.

The annual average in construction-related deaths over the last four years was just five and a half. Construction-related injuries jumped 53% in the last fiscal year to 324 total workers.

Meanwhile, repeat offenders continue to maintain unsafe work sites without the supervision or monetary incentive to change their ways. Fines leveled against contractors responsible for five recent deaths have totaled just $60,000, and only 66 federal safety inspectors cover the entire city.

According to the Times analysis, a luxury building going up at 252 East 57th Street has racked up the most Department of Buildings violations for "site conditions endangering workers"—40 in total since January 2014. In one complaint, a worker reported to the DOB that "I was working on a construction site yesterday. Two people were injured. They were advised NOT to call EMS."

When it comes to prosecuting bad actors, there have been exceptions to the rule. In August, the Manhattan District Attorney and the Department of Investigation indicted the foreman of an excavation subcontractor and the senior superintendent of a construction contractor.

Both men allegedly ignored warnings about unsafe working conditions on an active construction site in the Meatpacking District, where 22-year-old construction worker Carlos Moncayo was crushed and killed in an unsecured trench this April. Wilmer Cueva, 50, of Sky Materials Corp. and Alfonso Prestia, 54, of Harco Construction LLC were charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

In direct response to this particular case, construction inspectors are now required to report unsafe worksite conditions to the DOB, not just the contractor in question. Vance and DOI Commissioner Mark Peters have also announced a task force to investigate construction misconduct in the city.

"Why didn't we do it this way five years ago?" Peters wondered.