On Saturday afternoon a construction worker tragically fell to his death at a mid-town Manhattan construction worksite. The fatal accident occurred at a Madison Avenue building project located between 43rd and 44th streets, at a location nearby to Grand Central Terminal. According to media reports of the accident, the incident occurred in the afternoon when a man fell 30 feet from the fifth floor to the second floor. Information given to the media by the New York City Police Department indicated the construction accident victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital where authorities said he was pronounced dead after doctors tried to save him, but were sadly unable to do so.
After the accident, the NYC Department of Buildings halted work on the project with a full stop-work order being issued. The Building Department’s investigation of this construction accident is ongoing and, as a result, not many details of what occurred have been released to the public. At this time, it’s unclear what circumstances were present before the accident took place. What is known is the worker was a 49-year-old man who was working at a prominent construction site which is being renovated as a tech hub called “Grand Central Tech.” Numerous companies, some high-profile, are have already leased space in the building.
At this time, the victim’s identity has not been published pending the notification of his family. Our hearts and sympathies go out to the victim’s family and friends in the wake of this tragic accident.
Sadly, the 49-year-old man is the latest victim in a string of deadly accidents taking place at New York City Construction sites. In April 2019 alone, three construction workers died during a singular week. Erik Mendoza, a 23-year-old worker, was killed on April 10 when he fell off the roof of a 13-story building he was working at in Brooklyn. A few days later, Gregory Echevarria, a 34-year-old man from Brooklyn, was killed in the early morning hours of April 13 at a site where he was working as a crane rigger. He was crushed by a 7.5-ton counterweight that fell from a crane. Five days later, Nelson Salinas, 51, was working on an East Side building’s façade when he was killed by falling debris.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks construction as New York City’s “deadliest industry.” In 2018, 761 construction workers were killed at construction sites across the city. Reports indicate the number of construction-related accidents last year had “surged significantly” (13%) when compared with the statistics from 2017. Other statistics indicate construction site deaths are up an incredulous 33% when compared to the figures of five years ago.
An April 2019 CBS News report attributed a quote to Gary Labarbera, NYTC Building & Construction Trades Council president, stating, “…there shouldn’t be anywhere near this many fatalities.”
The CBS report also spoke with Tim Hogan, the city’s Department of Buildings deputy commissioner, who stated there are approximately 45,000 active construction sites in New York City, and are quarter of them are not in compliance with safety regulations. Hogan also stated the city has increased the number of inspectors, extended shifts to 12 hours, and is actively working to ensure safety regulations are followed.
Many have attributed the uptick of construction accidents due to New York City’s busy construction market, with tens of thousands of new builds, renovations, and restorations occurring throughout the city’s five boroughs. Some speculate contractors are underbidding to secure construction contracts, and subsequently look to cut corners, which directly impacts worker safety.
Whatever the root causes of increased construction-related fatalities and injuries, there is an unacceptable number of accidents occurring in the city. Building companies should ensure there are protective measures in place to secure the safety of their workers. It seems, despite city officials cracking down on companies, many still ignore or find ways to try to skirt around being compliant with safety regulations.
If you or a family member is suffering from a construction-related injury or have lost a loved one in an accident, you deserve justice for the damages and emotional trauma you’ve suffered. The attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine can help. Many construction accidents can and should be prevented. At our firm, you’ll receive compassionate and knowledgeable representation. To learn more about construction accident results or to receive a free legal consultation, please call us at 212-268-3222.