A construction worker was critically injured at a Manhattan construction site yesterday. The worker lost his balance while standing on a ladder. He fell into an elevator shaft, culminating in a terrifying four-story fall. He landed on metal rebar which impaled him, leaving him with massive injuries and in excruciating pain.
The worker, a man in his mid-50s, was about to hang drywall on a ceiling at a building located at 34 W. 17th St. We wrote yesterday about the accident and have not learned any additional details about the victim’s condition. Our thoughts and prayers remain with him and his family and friends.
However, we go to press today after learning that this worker was not wearing any safety equipment, like a harness, at the time of the fall. This was a fact that was revealed by the New York City Buildings Department. Their investigation will continue and will focus on the all-important issue of whether the people in charge of safety at this job site adequately provided safety equipment like a harness to the workers. If he was provided a harness and was wearing at the time this accident would never have occurred.
The General Contractor at the site, New Empire Builder Corporation, is one of the entities that is responsible for safety at a job site. That responsibility extends to providing the appropriate safety equipment, a safe environment to work in and taking the appropriate steps to make sure that people are performing their job in a safe and responsible way. It is not clear at this juncture whether they satisfied these basic requirements.
However, there is some past history that tends to tip the scales in favor of it being likely that they put this worker in an unsafe environment without regard for the consequences. What are we talking about here? Late last year this same General Contractor was fined for failing to appropriately and safely guard the building’s elevator shafts during construction. An unsafe and exposed elevator shaft poses one of the greatest risks at a construction site. This past indiscretion is quite telling. The victim in this construction accident fell down an elevator shaft. Does that mean they didn’t provide their workers with harnesses? Does it mean the elevator shaft remained unprotected? I suppose not necessarily but it does show that previously they were not entirely focused on providing a safe place for people to work. If they failed to provide a harness and an appropriate place to secure the harness to than they will be legally responsible for the tragic damages that this innocent worker has and will endure. If they failed to properly safeguard the elevator shaft than they will be legally responsible for this accident as well. The investigation will be critical in making sure that this worker gets a fair shake.
Block O’Toole & Murphy, a law firm that is committed to fighting for the rights of construction workers, will update you with further information as it is revealed.