Sadly, another worker died earlier this week in a horrific work accident – this time at a luxury apartment high-rise in Hell’s Kitchen, as reported by the New York Daily News.
Steven Simpson, an electrician, was found dead by a security guard yesterday morning at around 7:15AM. His body had been dangling lifelessly between the elevator and elevator shaft for hours. Simpson was pronounced dead at the scene when the EMS arrived.
The 53-year-old husband and father finished his shift at around 3pm on Saturday and told his coworkers that he needed to retrieve some personal things from inside 555 Tenth Avenue, a luxury residential building between 40th and 41st Streets. Tragically, he never made it out of the building alive.
Investigators now believe that he was crushed by the elevator he was riding in. The elevator had stopped when the building’s power source shut off. He pried the elevator doors open himself, and as he climbed out, the elevator lurched upward, crushing him.
A heartbreaking end for a beloved husband and father.
Originally from Jamaica, Simpson served in the U.S. Army and was an employee of Patriot Electric. The apartment building where he died, dubbed 555Ten, is a 52-story tower that is still undergoing construction by Extell Development. Simpson was found at the top of the elevator car on the fifth floor of the building.
This incident, like many others, highlights the greater need for worker safety in New York City, especially in the construction sector. In Simpson’s case, better safety regulations could have prevented the untimely power shutdown which trapped him in the elevator. In an attempt to escape, he was crushed to death.
Elevator accidents are extremely dangerous. According to data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, incidents involving either an escalator or elevator seriously injure approximately 17,000 people each year in the US. Around 30 of those injuries are fatal.
This is the second time this month that a worker was crushed by an elevator in a Manhattan building. Earlier, another worker was severely injured at 380 Lafayette St., prompting a local union organization to call for the passage of the Elevator Safety Act. In yet another incident this July, another 4 workers were hurt when the elevator they were in came crashing down at a Con Edison facility in Vinegar Hill.
Regarding Simpson’s untimely death, this wasn’t the first time an Extell Development property had an on-site construction accident this month. On Wednesday July 12th, officials closed down a block of W. 58th street when a ramp connecting the construction elevator to the building fell sixteen stories. Luckily, no one was injured. Had workers been on the ramp or if pedestrians were in the area, the outcome would’ve been catastrophic.
A New York Times Op-Ed published January of this year titled “2 Years, 31 Dead Construction Workers. New York Can Do Better” points to the lack of safety inspections in the city, which unsurprisingly results in a high number of serious OSHA violations.
The author, Director of Pathways 2 Apprenticeship, Dominique Bravo, powerfully states: “We are in the midst of a public health epidemic brought on by inadequate safety regulations and public inattention.”
A recent report published by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH) found that the fatality rate in the construction industry actually climbed 38.9% from 2011 to 2015.
Yes. New York can do better. As evidenced by the multiple severe injuries and deaths that the New York construction industry faced in 2017 alone, we need to continue promoting awareness of workplace safety issues for construction workers and hold officials and employers responsible for lapses in ensuring a safe work environment for laborers.
If you or someone you know has been hurt in an accident on a construction site and want to understand your legal rights, please feel free to contact the attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy for a free consultation. Simply call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form. We’ve successfully recovered nearly 80 multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for injured workers. In 2016 alone, the firm achieved 3 of the Top 5 Construction Settlements in New York State. Additionally, many of our attorneys are members of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association Labor Law Committee, an organization dedicated to preserving and enacting worker safety laws.
To learn more, please call 212-736-5300 for a free legal consultation.