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Trenching Accident Kills Construction Worker

A ceiling collapsed in a Staten Island car dealership last Friday, killing a construction worker.  The man was working on demolishing the building’s interior partitions. The dealership’s workers were in an adjoining building when the ceiling collapsed.  Three other construction workers were able to escape when the ceiling fell.


The man worked for Formica Construction.  The company had been cited by the New York City Buildings Department in 2013 for violations involving a jobsite fence and combustible material storage. Those violations were corrected.

According to the report in the New York Times, one of the company’s owners pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in 2007.  The charge resulted from an incident involving the 2003 death of a worker buried when a 15-foot trench collapsed.  According to court records, the company’s owner knew that the trench was unsafe.

The trench in question was not sloped or shored in compliance with standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  The collapse killed a 39-year old worker.

The company’s owner reached a deal with prosecutors that required him to pay a fine and spent weekends in jail.  However, it did not keep him from working. The conviction was unusual at the time because contractors were seldom held liable for the deaths of workers.

The city’s Department of Buildings is investigating the collapse of the ceiling. The city building permits displayed at the dealership for the work were apparently expired at the time of the accident.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that about 54 construction workers die in preventable trenching accidents each year.