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Construction accidents: crane drops beam, crushing 2 men below

Two more construction workers were added to the list of courageous men and women who have given their lives in the performance of their work duties in New York City's construction industry. The accident happened on Nov. 22 at a residential housing complex that was under construction in Queens. A crane was carrying a 6,500-pound I-beam to place it on the fourth floor when the cable mechanism snapped and the beam was dropped onto the area of the crane, killing the worker in the cab and the worker who had been guiding the beam. This was the most recent in a long line of construction accidents that have plagued city workers for decades.

The casualties from construction work in the city, coming at a time of high-volume building projects, is expected to rise to some extent. However, contentiousness between union and non-union work camps has flamed the fires of publicity over the intensity and regularity of the accidents. Union officials who visited the non-union site where the two men died expressed the view that the owner at the site was putting profits ahead of safety.

The Department of Buildings was also at the site to give its preliminary conclusion that the winds did not cause the accident. In February, the DeBlasio administration implemented new regulations that require a cessation of crane activities when the winds exceed 20 mph and gusts are occurring of more than 30 mph. A building commissioner said in a statement that this accident was caused by a rigging failure that caused the beam to come loose.

One way or another, negligence was likely involved in the causation of this fatal accident, which is one in a long line of New York City construction accidents. It will be up to the attorneys for the decedents to investigate thoroughly and advise the victims' families whether a wrongful death claim can be filed, considering the general prohibition against claiming against the worker's employer. Where a defective mechanism is involved, it may pave the way for making a product liability claim against the crane and/or cable manufacturer. 

Source: cbslocal.com, "'Unlikely Wind Played A Role' In Crane Accident That Killed 2 Workers In Queens, Officials Say", Nov. 22, 2016