Construction work is far from an easy way to make a living, but many New Yorkers risk life and limb on a daily basis to provide for their loved ones. We were reminded yet again of the dangers construction workers face when Antonio Garcia, a 41-year-old laborer, fell from the roof of a landmarked Brooklyn Heights house last week.
According to the New York Daily News, at around 9:40AM on Wednesday August 16, 2017, Antonio Garcia was replacing shingles on the roof of a 184-year-old building when he fell two stories and landed on his head. His coworkers were shocked.
“In the morning everything was fine; it happened in a second. I feel speechless,” one of them told the New York Daily News.
Medical staff took him to Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, where he is reported to be in serious condition. We are greatly saddened by the incident and wish Garcia a full recovery.
One of his fellow workers was compelled to state that Garcia’s fall was purely an accident.
“He was a good worker and was not drinking.”
While it is disheartening that his coworker felt the need to head off accusations of drinking or negligence, we understand where that need comes from. Insurance companies, property owners, and contractors have accused innocent victims of construction accidents of being at fault rather than deal with the root causes of a growing number of workplace injuries in the construction sector.
In this current case, general contractor American Residential Contractor LTD and subcontractor Velu General Contracting were issued violations for failing to provide adequate fall protection on the site. With employers not providing proper fall protection, workers like Antonio Garcia unnecessarily risk their lives on the job.
Despite the increased availability of fall protection harnesses and other safety equipment on the market, roofing accidents continue to injure and kill many workers each year. The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) Data Center found that falls from roofs were responsible for a third of all fall-related construction fatalities from 1992-2009. Things haven’t gotten any better since, with a recent report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH) finding that fatalities in the New York construction industry increased nearly 40 percent between 2011-2015.
As building activity continues in our city, workers will face the inherent dangers of working on roofs and at great heights unless we focus on fixing core safety issues in the industry. If we do not address the root causes of preventable injuries and deaths, these alarming statistics may regrettably become a permanent part of the landscape.
Why does this keep happening? Simple: money. It costs contractors, sub-contractors, property owners and others money to provide proper fall protection and other safety equipment. The fines when they are caught are relatively meager, creating a financial incentive to take the risk. In this case, that risk was deciding not to provide adequate fall protection to the workers at the Brooklyn Heights site.
If you have questions regarding labor laws or if you’ve been hurt in a construction-related accident yourself, please feel free to call us at 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form for answers to your questions.
The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy are experienced in litigating construction accident cases, including falls from roofs. Our results include:
- $7,400,000 For Union Sheet Metal Worker Who Suffered Back Injury After Fall
- $4,000,000 settlement in a Nassau County lawsuit, for a laborer who fell off a roof, injuring his lumbar spine
- $2,700,000 For a Union Roofer Who Fractured His Leg and Back
Including the settlements and verdicts above, we have successfully recovered over $1 Billion for our clients in New York. In 2016 alone, we obtained 3 of the Top 5 Construction Settlements in New York State.
For a free legal consultation, simply call 212-736-5300.