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Mass Remember Fallen Construction Workers

16 construction workers who died in the past 12 months while working at construction sites in New York City were remembered at an annual mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan. The emotional scene was enhanced by bells tolling, polished marble floors, and limestone columns.


But in reality, what makes this a historic structure, aesthetically, represents something entirely different during this gripping ceremony. It justly celebrates the people responsible for its design and construction – – the men and women who filled the pews. This is the same group of workers who can stake a claim that they made this great city as beautiful and as majestic as it is. The mass attendees, rank and file construction workers, union bosses and municipal leaders, are consistently inspired by the fiery rhetoric from one of the construction industries most outspoken supporters, Reverend Brian Jordan.

Jordan, the chaplain for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, is behind this well attended mass. He had the church bell toll 17 times, 16 times for the construction workers who died in the 12 months since the last mass and one to remember the construction workers who have died since 2008 when the mass began at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Tragically, there are 140 construction workers who have died in New York City while doing their job since 2008. Far too many senseless deaths have occurred on our collective watch.

For a better understanding of construction accidents and the laws in new York that apply to them, consider reviewing this link.

The New York Times released an article about the mass this week. They identified a crane collapse in March 2008 as a defining moment in New York City’s construction safety record. They point out, construction accidents in New York City were less frequent after this crane collapse that claimed 7 lives, including 6 construction workers. There was a greater focus on safety at the time, according to their narrative. There also was a heightened awareness that workers lives were at stake if construction sites were not safely maintained and workers were not given the appropriate tools to accomplish their job.

The reduction in serious construction accidents happened to coincide with a severe drop in construction activity. That grace period is long gone, according to the article, and construction activity is at its peak in the city. The statistics have pointed to a significant increase in the number of serious injuries and fatalities as New York City has enjoyed a real estate boom. The increase in real estate activity has represented a conundrum for construction workers and their leaders. There is more work but, also, considerably more risk for them.

In the last calendar year there were more fatalities during any year in the construction industry since 2008. Not coincidentally, there was more construction activity last year than any year in memory, including in excess of 65,000,000 ft.² more construction than in 2007 or 2008.

For many, the mass is a reminder that construction can be a deadly business. The Commissioner of the Buildings Department was quoted in the Times article that the mass serves as a critical reminder, “Safety is our No. 1 priority.” That makes for a good quote but New York City sorely needs to focus on this human rights issue. Workers continue to be recklessly exposed to unfathomable dangers so that developers and property owners can yield a greater profit. The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have a long and proud history of representing construction workers and their family members.

They are well aware of how the obvious reduction in worker safety is impacting construction workers all across the state. Workers get out of bed in the morning and arrive at a construction site with an intent to work hard, do their job and return to their families at the end of the day. Too often, they are forced to work under dangerous conditions and it leads to tragedy.

The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy fight to hold the people responsible for safety decisions at a construction site accountable failing provide these workers the simplest of things: a safe place to do their job. Their results, including nearly $1 billion in verdicts and settlements, speak volumes about their commitment to fighting for the underdog. If you want to learn more about the firm or speak to an attorney you may contact them at 212-736-5300.