The family of Javier Salinas — the 36-year-old construction worker from Danbury, Connecticut who in October fell more than 50 feet to his death at the Chelsea Piers construction site in New York City — is suing his former employer, the worksite general contractors and the owners of the property where he died.
The dangers inherent to a construction site are well-known and can be prevented if simple, common-sense precautions are in place. Those dangers are particularly well-known where there are elevation-related risks involved. In fact, specific laws have been enacted to protect workers whose job requires them to perform construction activities in areas that are elevated. In this instance, a worker was killed because he was installing a roof over 40 feet in the air on a windy day. A strong gust of wind caused him to lose his balance and fall from the roof striking to a concrete slab on the ground below. The Wrongful Death of this 36-year old worker left his wife without a husband and their three children without their father. The entire accident could have been avoided if owner and contractors had taken steps to insure that there were proper safety harnesses or railings in place. In addition, a Site Safety Manager or Construction Foreman could have exercised some common sense and told the workers to not install the roof that day because it was too windy or that they should not install the roof until the safety devices were in place. Apparently, there were no safety devices at all and a tragic death occurred.
The available safety devices that would have prevented this accident include both safety harnesses and safety railings. A construction safety harness is necessary for any job that involves vertical travel or work at an elevation. Approximately 37 percent of serious injuries and deaths at construction sites are attributed to falls. Safety harnesses are attached to life lines via lanyards, which are designed to minimize injury from “jerk back” during a fall. The OSHA and ANSI requirements for safety harnesses, life lines and lanyards are matters of public record and are disseminated throughout the construction industry. In addition, OSHA compliant fall protection railing systems are also readily available and well-known throughout the construction industry to eliminate falls from roofs, open floors, and other hazardous areas on construction sites.
The construction site at which Mr. Salinas was killed clearly had no safety harnesses or safety railings in use at the time of the accident. These safety failures, coupled with the windy weather conditions that day, were certainly an accident waiting to happen. As a result of these failures, the Wrongful Death of a 36-year old man ensued.