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Articles Tagged with construction accidents nyc

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laguardia airportTo prevent New York construction workers from being injured during the redevelopment of the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal Building Redevelopment Project, OSHA recently signed a strategic partnership agreement with Skanska- Walsh Joint Venture,  the company in charge of the $4 billion redevelopment project. This partnership was signed to ensure enhanced workplace safety and health for the 1,600 workers hired for this gigantic construction project. OSHA partnerships are unique programs during which the agency works  with private companies and organizations to eliminate serious hazards and enhance safety and health practices at the workplace.  According to a recent press release from OSHA, the partnership that includes federal officials, private companies and labor organizations will provide education and training as well as monitoring of workplace safety during the entire  length of the project. As part of the partnership with Skanska, OSHA representatives will be included in meetings, serve as liaison and resources, assist in training, provide assistance on demand and inspect the various construction sites on a regular basis to make sure all safety standards and practices are complied with. “The OSHA and Skanska- Walsh partnership will allow us to focus on preventing work-related fatalities and injuries, and controlling or eliminating serious workplace hazards,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “It will also establish a foundation for effective job site safety and health programs serving approximately 250 subcontractors and their employees at LaGuardia Airport through the project’s scheduled completion in 2022.”


Worker safety has been a top concern for Skanska since the beginning of the project. Among the 1,600 workers  that will be working on the different phases of the project ( finance, design, construction, operation, and maintenance), 1,200 are construction workers. Skanska already announced last May that hired workers will be unionized (See NY Daily News article). The company signed a contract with the Building and Construction Trades Council which will manage the 16 different construction zones. For Skanska USA Building president Richard Kennedy, the contract with the Building and Construction Trades Council should increase safety standards during the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal Building Redevelopment Project  as all workers will be union trained in the latest standards and practices.





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NYC construction workersOver the last few years, the number of construction workers dying or suffering severe injuries on the job increased dramatically in New York  City. According to the most recent statistics from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health, 25 hard hats lost their life on NYC construction sites in 2015 compared to 17 in 2011. The majority of the fatal construction accidents in the city occurred on non unionized construction sites. Undocumented immigrant workers are often the most at risk of suffering catastrophic injuries or of dying in construction accidents.  One of the fundamental reasons why such a significant number of workers are dying on non unionized sites is the lack of training. Construction workers on non unionized sites are often not trained as well as unionized workers or not trained at all in some cases.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also believes that many construction accidents could be avoided if construction workers were better trained.  According to Politico, the mayor is working on a proposal to increase training for all construction workers in New York City. In the new proposal, all workers will be required to attend minimum training  of 54 to 71 hours. Supervisors will have to train an extra 30 hours on the top of the minimum requirements. Workers who are doing more dangerous tasks such as those working in confined space or workers doing work related to rigging safety, scaffolding, excavation, demolition and perimeter protection will have to attend additional training specific to their activity.

The new training rules are expected to be introduced to the City Council  in the next few weeks.

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Fernando Vanegaz died in a NYC construction accident18 year old Fernando Vanegaz died in a construction accident in Brooklyn, NYC, in September 2015. Two of his colleagues were also seriously injured in the accident. The construction workers were hired by  Michael Weiss an unlicensed contractor who was running an illegal construction site. Michael Weiss asked the workers to dig in an area where the NYC DOB had ordered not to excavate. The workers didn’t have much experience in excavating. When they asked for back up, the contractor ignored them. He also refused to provide any underpinning, shoring or bracing  after workers noticed a crack in a wall. Several times the workers expressed their concern about the crack in the wall, fearing for their lives. The contractor continued to ignore them. Then the tragedy happened, the wall collapsed, killing the young Fernando Vanegaz and seriously injuring two other of his co-workers. Both of them had to go through multiple surgeries for injuries to their spine, skull and facial bones.  The reckless contractor is now facing up to 15 year in prison.

Read more in the New York Times

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A construction worker was pinned between a forklift and a van and died from his injuries. The forklift accident occurred  in front of a FDNY warehouse in Queens on Saturday afternoon. The 28 year old man drove the forklift in front of the warehouse in order to upload merchandise from a van. He put the forklift in neutral and stepped out. As he was walking toward the van, the forklift started to roll behind him, crushing him against the van. He was rushed to the emergency room but he died at the hospital. According to the NY Daily News, the equipment belonged to the FDNY.

Forklift accidents are unfortunately too common. 11% of the forklifts operating in the US are involved in accidents every year. Among these accidents 35,000 workers will die or suffer severe injuries and 65,000 will suffer minor injuries. Here are a few tips to prevent such accidents from happening.


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constructionLast September we wrote a blog about a third of NYC construction accident deaths not being counted or investigated by the city. After Crain’s reported this continuing problem, Mayor de Blasio acted in a very nonchalant manner and brushed off the issue. Unions workers were outraged by his attitude.

Among the multiple deaths that the city didn’t count or investigate last year was the death of Alton Louis, a construction worker employed by CRV Precast. Alton Louis collapsed and died during the summer of 2015 after the subcontractor failed to implement a heat stress program and had him working a full shift during a day when the temperature reached 105 degrees. CRV precast was cited by OSHA for the death of the construction worker, but neither the NYC Department of Buildings nor the NYC Department of Investigation investigated the company. CPR was fined $6,300 by OSHA for the death of Alton Louis while the City looked the other way.

Two weeks ago, two construction workers died in Queens (see previous blog). Crain’s reported that one of these construction workers was employed by CVR Precast. The other hard hat who died worked for a firm subcontracted by CVR Precast.

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A construction worker died after falling from a scaffolding in New York City. 31 year old Michael Buffamante was working on scaffolding at the Coney Island Wastewater Treatment Plant in Sheepsheadbay yesterday. He was installing dechlorination equipment.  A little after noon he fell from his scaffolding into a 35 foot-deep sewage tank filled with wastewater and chlorine.

FDNY divers ran to the rescue and found the young worker lying at the bottom of the tank. They brought him to the surface. The worker was in cardiac arrest after having been in the water approximately 8 minutes . The paramedic gave him CPR and transported him to the hospital in critical condition. Buffamante died at the hospital. The worker was employed by Welkin Mechanical, a construction company based in Queens. According to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the worker was wearing protective equipment.The DEP did not specify what type of protective eqipment. Further investigation will be necessary to determine the exact cause of the accident.

Read more in the NY Daily News

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NYC Construction accident injuries and fatalitiesConstruction accident injuries in New York are on the rise as the city is experiencing a boom in this industry. The de Blasio administration just released the Mayor’s Management Report that covers the fiscal year that goes from July 2015 to the end of June 2016. The report indicates that 526 construction workers were injured and 11 died in construction accidents in New York City during the last fiscal year compared to respectively 324 and 10 during the previous fiscal year. During the same periods of time the average number of employees in the construction industry in NYC went from 38,600 to 42,200. While the workforce on construction sites only increased by 9%, the number of injuries increased by 62%.  The number of fatalities increased by 10%.

These statistics only reflect accidents injuries and deaths that occurred after a violations of the city’s construction code. The real number of deaths that occurred on New York City construction sites during that time is 18 according to OSHA statistics (see previous blog). Therefore the real number of injuries related to accidents on NYC construction sites may be much higher than 526, not only because the city’s manner of reporting injuries is biased but also because  many injuries are simply not reported. Construction workers  are often pressured not to report injuries by greedy contractors who don’t want to see their insurance increase or be investigated by OSHA or the DOT inspectors.

To try to make NYC construction sites safer, de Blasio announced new safety measures at the beginning of the year. Among the measures, new inspectors have been hired to increase the number of sites inspections. Penalties for violations of safety standards increased from $2,400 to $10,000 and penalties for not having a supervisor on site from $5,000 to $25,000. Additionally after a giant crane crashed on pedestrians in lower Manhattan, the city ordered a special study to update the city’s crane regulations.