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Articles Tagged with construction accident NYC

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Building-Blocks-NYC_logo-1Too many construction workers die in New York City because they are not proprely trained for the job. Yesterday the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET) and District Council 9, International Union of Painter and Allied Trades (DC9 New York) announced that they were joining forces by creating Building Blocks NYC, a new coalition to advocate for the passage of Intro 1447 by the New York City Council. Intro 1447 is a legislation that would increase training for all construction workers in New York City, union and non-union alike.

Over the last 2 years 33 construction workers died on the job in New York City. The most recent fatal construction accident in the city occurred last week in Time Square, New York. 59 year old Jose Cruz fell 18 feet to his death. Cruz fell from an I-Beam. At the time of the accident, Cruz was wearing a safety harness but it wasn’t tied it off. The accident was completely preventable. (see previous blog)

Cruz was working for Streamline USA, a non unionized contractor. Streamline has a history of safety violations on its construction sites and was fined twice by OSHA over the last year. The majority of fatal NYC construction accidents occurred on non-unionized construction sites. Building Block NYC believes that many of these fatal accidents may have been prevented if employees were proprely trained. Unlike unionized contractors who require their employees to sit down in classrooms and participate in rigorous training programs, many non unionized contractors neglect to proprely train their employees.

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464 hard hats died in construction accidents in New York State between the beginning of 2006 and the end of 2016. 55 of them died in 2015. Construction is the second most dangerous industry in NY Sate after the agricultural industry. In New York City deaths related to construction accidents represent 34% of all occupational deaths compared to 32% in Los Angeles and 24% in Chicago. Most of these deaths are preventable according to the Annual Report on Construction Fatalities in New York State published this week by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH)

Over the last few years, the boom in the construction industry led to an increase in hard hat fatalities in New York City.  25 construction workers died on the job in 2015 compared to 22 in 2014, 17 in 2013, 20 in 2013 and 17 in 2011. Over these five years, almost 60% of the fatalities were related to falls.  Other common construction accidents were related to elevator installations, electrocutions, falling objects and workers caught between equipment or machinery. From 2014 to 2015, the number of NYC construction accidents involving injury or death almost doubled, It went from 231 in 2014 to 435 in 2015.

fatal construction accidents NYC
There are only 66 OSHA inspectors in New York State. In 2014, these inspectors visited more than 2,000 construction sites. Inspectors found violations on 2 out of 3 sites visited. The most common violation was failure to protect workers from falls. The average fine was $3,673. Since August 2016, OSHA increased its fines, hoping that it may deter contractors from violating safety standards. This increase in penalties took place two months after the preventable death of 22 year old Carlos Moncayo. After the death of Moncayo, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance collaborated with construction workers advocate groups to support the use of criminal laws to prosecute negligent contractors who recklessly endangered their employees life (see previous blog). As a result, Moncayo’s employer was criminally convicted and sent  to jail.

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Domino_Sugar_refineryA construction worker fell to his death in New York City on Friday morning around 8:00 am. 59 year old Wilfredo Enrique was working on the facade of  a new residential development when he fell to his death.  Enrique was employed by Two Trees Management and was working on the construction site located on the old site of the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. After the accident the site was closed and investigators were working on determining the exact cause of the fatal accident.

According to the most recent complaints reported on the NYC Department of Building website, the scaffold didn’t meet the building safety code standard. The worker fell approximately 4 floors from the master climbingwork platform, after Two Trees Management failed to safeguard the platform.  Since the construction started 41 complaints have been filled. The Department of Building issued a total of 27 violations, most of them immediately hazardous. 3 of them were still open at the time of the accident. Among the open violation were the use of rigging equipment by a non licensed rigger and the failure to safeguard all persons and property affected by the construction operations.

The accident occurred just a few weeks after the death of two other NYC construction workers in Queens (see previous blog). According to Union representatives, Enrique is the 29th construction worker who died over the last two years in New York City. The boom in the construction sector in New York has led to an increase in construction jobs in the city. In 2015, the New York Building Congress recorded 138,200 construction jobs, the highest in 40 years.

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A construction worker suffered critical injury after he fell down an elevator shaft in NYC. The 42 year old man was an employee of Economy Elevator Inc. He was working on a construction site at 246 Johnson Ave in Brooklyn, NYC when he fell seven stories in the elevator shaft. Other workers who heard him scream came to the rescue and call the emergency medical workers. The workers was able to move his hands and his feet when the EMS put him on the stretcher. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition. According to DNA Info the worker was wearing a harness when he was found on the ground. However it is not clear if it was attached to anything at the time of the accident. Read more in DNA Info 

246 Johnson Ave is located at the corner of Bushwick Place near the Montrose L stop. In 2014 it was a one-story building that was bought by developer Moshe Silberstein. A residential building is now being constructed at this location. See below a picture of the building from Google map before development.

246 Johnson Ave

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construction workerThe New York City Department of Buildings announced earlier this year that 12 people died in  construction accidents in New York City in 2015 but the real number is 18. According to a recent article in Crain’s, the New York City Department of Buildings only counts deaths that are related to a violation of the city’s construction code.

Despite being featured by media and investigated by OSHA, all other deaths on NYC construction sites are not counted as construction accident deaths  in the DOB statistics. This obviously doesn’t make much sense. The DOB numbers are a distorted indication of the level of safety on New York construction sites.

Among the deaths that the city didn’t count were a hard hat who fell to his death in an elevator shaft,  a safety coordinator crushed by a crane, a worker who fell from a ladder and a truck driver who was sucked into a concrete truck shaft. Following these deaths, OSHA issued safety violations for each case. However the DOB didn’t and also didn’t add them to the total number of New York City construction accident deaths in 2015.

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steel plateThree construction workers suffered serious personal injury on a construction site in Brooklyn. The three hard hats were working on a building located on 21st Street near the Gownaus expressway. A steel plate came loose and struck the three workers. They were all transported to the hospital in serious condition.

Steel plates are commonly used in construction sites to reinforce structures. Construction accidents related to loose steel plates are unfortunately happening too often. Due to the heavy weight of the steel plate, they can result in serious personal injury or death. Workers and supervisors always should make sure that steel plates are proprely secured to prevent this type of construction accident.

Read more in the NY Post

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KingsbrookA hard hat worker suffered critical injury in a NYC construction accident yesterday. A construction truck hit a suspended cable line causing a pole to fall, knocking down the construction worker into a 15 foot trench. The accident happened at the corner of East 49th Street and Rutland Road in Brownsville, next to the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center.

When Brian Yokers, one the ER doctors at the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, heard about a worker in cardiac arrest at the construction site next to the hospital he ran out to the construction site and followed the crowd to the trench. The worker was still breathing when he arrived. He stepped down the ladder into the trench to help the worker.  He held his head stable to prevent a spinal cord injury until the FDNY arrived with a neck brace. The worker was then placed on a backboard and hoisted out of the trench. He was then transported to the Kings County Hospital.

Kudos to Brian Yokers!

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After a construction worker died and four others suffered personal injury in a construction accident in Brooklyn, NYC, in 2011, the negligent “special instructor” who failed to perform crucial safety inspections on the site of the accident had his license revoked by the New York City Department of Buildings on Friday.

Back in 2011, Steven Schneider, an engineer, was hired as a special safety inspector on the construction site of a 14-unit condo building in Brighton Beach. As part of his duties Schneider was required by the code to perform structural tests such as testing of steel and masonry construction, structural stability and underpinning of adjacent buildings. Investigations show that Schneider never performed any of these tests and therefore didn’t notice that construction workers  had improperly poured concrete on unstable steel structures. This gross negligence led to the collapse of several floors of the building.  During the accident several workers were buried in the debris. Among them was Ivan Lende, a 54 year old worker from the Ukraine who died in the accident. Four of his colleagues were injured. Investigation results also show that Schneider  was unable to provide inspection documentation at many other NYC sites where he had been hired as a safety instructor. Not only did Schneider have his license revoked by the NYC DOB but his case was also referred to the state for “further disciplinary action”.

The DOB also announced Friday the revocation of the plumbing license of Andrew Trombetta. Andrew Trombetta is a master plumber who was involved in the East Village gas explosion that killed two people and injured many others in March 2015. Andrew Trobetta rented his licensed to the unaccredited plumber who installed the illegal hook up that led to the explosion. Earlier this month he was charged with falsifying inspection reports while four other people were charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

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Between 2005 and 2015 claims related to people injured in construction accidents related to falling bricks or other debris in New York City have been decreasing by more than half. This decline is mostly related to the city creating stricter and stricter laws to protect New Yorkers from construction accidents.  Among the laws enacted by the city, one them requires the erection of sidewalk sheds to protect pedestrians from falling debris.  According to a recent article in Crains, there are now 9000 sheds all over the city compared to 3,500 in 2003. Some of these sheds can remain for years as some building owners find it cheaper to pay  a fine and keep the shed rather than paying to renovate the facade of their buildings. Some New Yorkers are complaining that the sheds not only cut off sunlight, create a safety hazard and hurt businesses but also accumulate garbage and serve as a shelter for loiterers. The need for sidewalk sheds or overhead protection, as they are also known at active construction sites in New York is critical to the safety of both workers and the public. The comment in the article that, “And developers may not be inclined to spend on nicer sheds because of the growing cost of settling lawsuits brought under New York state Labor Law 240/241, better known as the scaffold law. The statute holds building owners and contractors 100% liable for any gravity-related accident in which they are at least partially at fault,” misses the point. If it were not for these statutes there would be thousands of serious injuries and fatalities each year in NYC, since to cut costs many construction companies mostly on non-union jobs would cut costs and not be inclined to have any sheds. which was the case when the Labor Law was not strictly enforced. With regard to building owners who install sheds rather than performing needed facade renovation work, the City must start to actively track the issuance of shed permits. An owner should not be issued a permit and fail to commence construction within 90 days of issuance. Escalating fines should be levied against the owner for failing to commence construction. Further, the City must start to ease the antiquated process of filing and approving construction permits. Although it is a difficult situation one must remember that Safety comes first.

Read the complete article

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After hearing about multiple complaints of tenants being endangered by construction work in their building often because unscrupulous landlords are trying to push them out and rent at a higher price (see previous blog), the New York City Council today introduced a new package of bills intended to stop these dangerous practices. A total of a dozen bills are pushing for more and quicker enforcement by the NYC Buildings Department. One of the bills proposes the creation of a special unit that would send inspectors to the site within two hours after a complaint of non permitted work is received. Other bills address falsified claims in which the owner pretends the building is vacant when it is not. Tenants advocates are claiming that harassment has reached unbearable levels in gentrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side and that the Department of Buildings is too lenient.

Read more in the New York Times