The news recently reported that a construction worker suffered gruesome
injuries after falling five stories inside a Flatiron building under renovation
and being impaled on steel rebar. Aside from issues about safety procedures
that would have prevented the accident altogether, there is no question
that the severity of his injuries could have been avoided had the construction
company placed caps on the points of the rebar, as his co-workers said.
This accident, which left the worker in critical condition at Bellevue
Hospital, raises yet another serious concern in a project that has had
numerous safety violations, which have gone uncorrected by the companies
According to the report, the Department of Buildings fined the developers
last August for failing to be in compliance with the building code and
failing to secure hoistway doors, a hazard that could cause someone to
fall down a shaftway.
The developers paid the fine in November, but never fixed the actual, underlying
problem, so that the Department of Buildings issued a further $1,500 civil
penalty to them for “failing to certify” that they corrected
an “immediate hazardous violation.” The developers, in fact,
had been fined a total of $19,600 for six serious violations, including
one in which they failed to have fall protection on the job site.
As I discussed in a previous note,
construction accidents have risen in New York City disproportionately to the rate of construction.
Many incidents, like this one in fact, have been deemed “completely
avoidable,” and clearly resulted from the negligence of owners,
construction companies and developers who prize speed and profit over
properly trained workers with adequate safety gear and equipment at a
job site with appropriate safety procedures in place.
I have been representing injured construction workers for as long as I
have practiced, since 1977. While I applaud the work that developers and
constructions companies have done to enhance our City and bring jobs and
visitors to us, I nonetheless know that it falls upon them---the bosses---to
exercise the care necessary and required to protect working men and women
who cannot protect themselves and are at their bosses' mercy for a
job every single working day. It may be true that accidents happen; but
a negligently caused injury to a working person is no accident---it's
a foreseeable, preventable event.