The New York attorneys frequently discuss the dangers associated with construction work. Rarely, however, are the perils of construction work extended to pedestrians on the streets of New York. Yesterday, at about 8:30 AM, a unwary 43 year-old female was injured by a circular saw during a terrifying melee in the Hells Kitchen section of Manhattan. How did this happen?
The scene sounds like it came straight out of a script for a B level horror flick. A massive circular saw blade that was being used at a construction site became dislodged from the machine and was flying around the streets of Manhattan, sailing more than 100 feet in the air.
According to news reports, the saw was being used to cut pavement yesterday morning on 9th Avenue and 48th Street as part of an overall plan to lay underground water pipes for the city. Unfortunately, the blade somehow got disconnected from the machine it was attached to. It remains unclear whether human error played a role in this accident. Some reports suggest that the worker who was operating the saw lost control of it. However, it is also possible that the machine was not in proper working order and should not have been cleared for use that day. What is clear is that the blade hit a curb after becoming dislodged and soared into the air. The saw operator recognized the danger and was yelling for people to get out of the way as the frightening scene unfolded. Witnesses said the blade flew beyond a canopy and had soared as high as some of the local trees. Panicked pedestrians were racing for safety as the saw sailed through the air, like a weapon determined to draw blood.
The saw is about 3 feet in diameter and its lethal blade cuts through concrete on a regular basis. The teeth are jagged, making it particularly dangerous. The saw struck a 43 year-old woman who was unable to escape the saw’s path. She was more than 100 feet away when she was struck from where the saw was being used. The sharp blade sliced into and cut her right arm and leg. The victim was knocked to the ground and was bleeding profusely. Witnesses described the gory scene in graphic detail, indicating that the victim was understandably confused about what happened. Emergency teams raced to the scene and rushed her by ambulance to Bellevue Hospital. Her deep lacerations were treated and thankfully they are not life-threatening. Our thoughts and prayers are with her during her recovery.
There needs to be some sense made out of this. Who was responsible for this accident? Signs at the scene indicate that city’s Department of Design and Construction is the agency responsible for the work. They likely contracted a private company to perform the work. It is unclear whether this company has a strong safety track record or was merely the lowest bidder. Some other questions need to be answered:
- Was the saw inspected on the morning the work was being done?
- How old is the saw?
- Was this saw being used for the work it was designed for?
- Were pedestrians properly and safely constrained from the work area?
- Were there warning signs about the construction work that were visible?
- What due diligence did the city undertake about the company’s safety history in awarding them the contract?
The facts are not all in on this one and we will continue to monitor it for new developments. The answers to these questions will provide a lot of color in explaining this frightening, yet bizarre, construction accident. Stay tuned.
Construction is booming in New York. That means more projects, more jobs and increased opportunity for growth. With increased construction, there is obviously added exposure for accidents to occur. The instances where people are injured or killed at construction sites needs to be minimized. New York has the largest amount of construction in the entire country. Yet, the state remains the 5th safest when it comes to construction work. This paradigm needs to continue. Keeping people safe needs to remain the top priority.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that prides itself on fighting for injured construction workers. The lawyers at this firm have amassed more than $750,000,000 in verdicts and settlements for their injured clients. You can learn more about the firm by reviewing the Block O’Toole & Murphy website at www.blockotoole.com. You can call them for a free consultation at 212.736.5300.