A city construction worker plunged a horrifying 18 feet to his death at a construction site last Wednesday, as reported by New York Daily News.
On April 12th, Jose Cruz went to work at a construction site at 1604 Broadway in Times Square. The project was to become a Grand Ole Opry-themed music venue and restaurant. At around 11:05am, Cruz was on an i-beam working to remove a steel deck from a slab when he fell and sustained significant head trauma. He was taken to Mount Sinai West soon afterwards where he was pronounced dead.
“It’s a tragedy, and we’re very, very upset by it,” said Rick Chandler, Commissioner of Department of Buildings.
New York City’s Department of Buildings also believes Cruz’s death was “completely preventable,” as there were no tie offs with the protection equipment Cruz was wearing.
The nonunion general contractor at the site was Streamline USA LLC, which reportedly received 7 violations from Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) in the last year “following complaints about unsafe work conditions” at the construction site.
If there had been previous complaints about unsafe conditions for laborers, then it would further strengthen the case that Cruz’s death was preventable. The city had stapled a stop order in front of the work site.
In light of the tragic death of Jose Cruz, the Department of Buildings will also increase safety inspections on construction sites and investigate whether the 1604 Broadway site had a construction superintendent. In early 2016, New York City released new regulations (1 RCNY 3301-02) to expand the role of construction superintendents in an effort to increase workplace safety.
“We have to get the message out to these contractors that this building is not worth anybody’s life,” Chandler announced.
Unfortunately, construction-related deaths have become tragically too familiar. The fatality rate of construction workers in New York climbed 28.9% from 2011 to 2015, according to a recent report by NYCOSH. Falls, like the one that killed Jose Cruz, account for 59% of construction-related fatalities in New York City from 2011 to 2015. To put this into perspective, the national average was 36%. During that same time period, safety inspections decreased from 2,722 in 2011 to 1,966 in 2015. DOB’s announcement that they will be increasing safety inspections is much-needed in light of recent trends.
Cruz was described by his neighbor as someone who’s “always good.” Originally from the Dominican Republic, the 59-year-old worker lived in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The owner of Cash & Carry Deli across the street from his home knew him for over 15 years.
“He’s got a daughter and a young kid,” the deli owner said. “He was a hard working guy. He was a welder. He was here since he was young … He was a good guy.”
If your loved one suffered a wrongful death on the job or if you’ve been injured in a construction-related incident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, loss wages, and more. The injury attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have represented many workers in the construction industry and recovered significant verdicts and settlements for their injuries.