A construction worker plummeted as much as 40 feet to the ground from a luxury apartment building complex that was being constructed as part of Manhattan’s Hudson Yards project. Details of this harrowing accident are still emerging.
The worker fell from the 2nd floor of 435 W. 31st St., located just off of Dyer Avenue in the now congested, construction heavy westside of Manhattan. The building that is being erected is 62 stories and hopes to have as many as 844 luxury apartments. It is being constructed by builder Hunter Roberts Construction Group.
The worker, whose name has not been released, apparently fell through a small floor opening at the job site. He was rushed to Bellevue Hospital and remains in serious condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and his family and friends. We hope he makes a meaningful recovery.
The Department of Buildings is currently investigating the accident. Two areas that investigators will certainly explore include whether the opening should have been covered to prevent an accident and whether the worker who was injured was provided fall protection that would have prevented the accident.
Construction safety protocol requires that floor openings at a construction site be specifically protected to prevent falls and equipment or tools falling through the opening. First, all openings should be clearly marked so that the hole is visible. This heightens a worker’s awareness that they are near a dangerous opening. Next, every opening in a floor should be equipped with a railing that has a standard toe-board. Floor holes should also have a cover on it that is capable of supporting the weight of a worker at the site and prevent objects from falling through. If at any time a cover is not practical, then the floor hole must be attended by a responsible worker who alerts anyone to the dangers and can prevent things from falling through. Logically, the bigger the hole, the greater the danger.
There are other types of fall protection that investigators will be scrutinizing. Fall protection during construction is typically required when someone is laboring six feet or more above ground level or are exposed to gravity related dangers. Employers must set up a worksite with adequate fall protection. In addition to floor holes being covered, there are specific fall protection devices that can curtail worker falls. They include guard rails, safety nets, stair railings, safety harnesses, life lines, yo-yos and lanyards. Each job requires an assessment by the professionals in charge of safety to determine what the appropriate fall protection is and where the fall protection should be situated.
The Department of Buildings’ investigation will be thorough and revealing. We hope the investigation sheds light on why and how this tragic accident occurred. Was a floor cover required? Were there fall protection devices available? We will find out soon enough.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that is committed to helping construction workers and their families. You can learn more about the lawyers at this firm at www.blockotoole.com.