Tuesday January 23rd marks a somber beginning to the week. At around 8:50am, Ju Cong Wu, 33-year-old worker who was installing an elevator car at 111 East 24th Street, fell nine stories to the bottom of the shaft and was fatally injured. EMS arrived at the construction site and pronounced him dead.
The building, intended to become a boutique hotel designed by architect Gene Kaufman, was to house 130 hotel rooms according to the building plans. However, construction was far from safe with some 17 complaints to New York City’s Department of Buildings just in the past year alone.
Notably, someone filed a complaint in regards to workers not wearing safety equipment last April, and in March, there were complaints that debris from the site have been flying off the building, posing a danger to pedestrians and motorists alike. At the time of the incident, these complaints were closed.
Wu, an elevator technician employed by U-Tek Elevator, wasn’t attached to a safety line at the time of the fall. The construction site was reported to be non-union.
In a statement, New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera states that she was “deeply saddened” by the incident and offered “sincerest condolences to his loved ones during this terrible tragedy.” The councilwoman will be working with FDNY, OSHA, DOB, and all relevant agencies to determine the cause of the incident.
As Wu’s body was removed from the scene, multiple people were crying. Among them were other workers at the job site.
“No one’s telling us anything right now. We’re just concerned for the worker,” a Local 1 Elevator Constructors foreman told New York Daily News.
This incident marks the first construction accident death in 2018. Last year, there were 12 deaths in the construction industry.
In response to the tragedy, the Buildings Department issued a full stop order for the construction site and is expected to issue violations after the investigation is complete.
Wu’s employer U-Tek Elevator, Inc, the building’s general contractor Trinity Builders, and the building owner SCIPM East 24 LLC did not immediately comment on the incident.
Although not all details have been disclosed to the public, the preliminary information points to the disturbing conclusion that this was not a freak accident – meaning, the death was most likely preventable. Ju Cong Wu was not wearing fall protection safety equipment – protection that might’ve prevented the fall and his untimely death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires fall protection for workers when they are working from heights of 6 feet or higher.
A spokesperson from New York City’s Local One Elevator Constructors commented, “He worked for U-Tek Elevator, so it’s their responsibility to provide the employee with training and equipment – that’s an OSHA regulation. It’s a shame that another person went to work today and is not going home to see his family.”
We offer our deepest condolences to the Wu’s family and close friends.
Unfortunately, construction accidents are on the rise in New York. Laborers who are hurt on the job need to protect themselves legally when an accident arises. If you or your loved one was harmed in a construction accident, there are certain laws in New York that protect workers when employers and contractors are negligent in providing on-the-job protection.
To learn more, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form for a free, no-obligation legal consultation. Our lawyers are here to help victims get justice in wrongful death cases and injury cases involving construction-related incidents.
The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy specialize in New York labor laws and have successfully litigated numerous construction injury cases for our clients. With nearly 90 construction accident recoveries that exceed $1,000,000 each, our lawyers will fight for every dollar that injured workers are entitled to under the law.
To learn more about our results, please visit our Construction Accidents Verdicts and Settlements page.