A devastating wall collapse occurred at a construction site on Manhattan's Lower East Side on Mon., Oct. 21, killing one worker and injuring another. According to NBC New York, the accident occurred at 60 Norfolk St. just before 10 a.m. Workers had been doing work on the wall when, authorities said, one section of the wall “somehow fell”, leaving workers trapped under bricks and debris. The construction work had been taking place at the property where the remains of a burned-out historic synagogue are located. The property had been slated for new development.
Within four minutes firefighters quickly arrived on the scene to rescue the trapped workers. Upon their arrival, they found the workers were buried under the surface debris of the collapsed structure. News reports indicate firefighters were able to extricate the workers within five or 10 minutes, according to FDNY Assistant Chief Michael Ajello.
Upon rescue, the two workers were immediately transported to the hospital. One of the workers, Stanislaw Supinski, died a short time after arriving at New York-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. The other worker, unidentified at this time, was treated at Bellevue Hospital having suffered a leg injury and, at the time of news reports, was listed as serious but in stable condition.
The New York City Buildings Department arrived on the scene and began their investigation. Their preliminary investigation found there was currently no immediate danger of additional collapse, but the department’s Forensic Engineering Unit is still conducting their inspections of the work site. The New York City Fire Department is setting up collapse perimeters.
"Our hearts and deepest sympathies go out to the Stanislaw Supinski’s family." — Howard Raphaelson, partner at Raphaelson & Levine
After Monday’s tragic event, footage taken at the construction accident scene showed the wall had completely fallen and was reduced to rubble. Workers on the scene were reported to be working at the site in preparation for a new development project slated to take place. Their work was reported to be “emergency stabilization work.”
The location was at the site of the former Beth Hamedrash Hagodol synagogue, a historic landmark built in 1850, which was shut down in 2007. It had been the oldest Jewish Orthodox congregation in New York City. In May 2017, a devastating fire tore through the empty building, leaving it severely damaged with only the damaged outer walls remaining. These walls were going to be incorporated into the designs for the new buildings. It was these walls that collapsed as workers were doing the prep work to “shore up” these walls for the new development plans.
Several local residents told news outlets the structure has been unsafe ever since the fire occurred.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports construction in New York City’s most dangerous occupation. Sadly, construction and extraction jobs also have the highest number of workplace fatalities in the city. In 2018, 761 of New York City’s construction workers were killed at various work locations throughout the five boroughs. Construction fatalities are also rising, reports indicate 2018’s statistics showed a 13% increase over the 671 deaths occurring in 2017.
Unfortunately, it is also common for New York City construction worksites to have numerous code violations taking place. At this time, no violations have been reported to have occurred at the Norfolk Street construction site. However, statistics are clear, much more proactive and preventative work needs to be done to ensure New York City’s dedicated construction workers are better protected from injury, or worse.
If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a construction accident, the knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm can help. Our skilled attorneys will carefully look over the details of your situation and determine if you have a case. Give us a call at 212-268-3222 or contact us online. Our attorneys work hard to ensure you receive justice for your loss.