A construction worker was seriously injured in a fall while performing upgrade work on subway tracks on Fourth Avenue between 53rd and 52nd Street in Sunset Park on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. The worker was rescued by the FDNY and taken to NYU Langone Hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
The upgrade project involved replacing support beams as part of a larger renovation of the tracks which span Fourth Avenue. The Brooklyn Reporter says that the worker was working in an “excavation hole” at the time of the accident, while AMNY reports that the worker fell from scaffolding. These updates may not be mutually exclusive; we will update this post when we learn more.
This accident caused delays to the D, N and R subway lines. Commuters at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, however, were told that the delay was caused by a stopped express train, according to AMNY. Shockingly, the official New York City Subway Twitter account tweeted that these trains were delayed in both directions “because of an unauthorized person on the tracks at 53 St.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the injured worker and his loved ones during this trying time.
Although the facts in this case have not been fully revealed, one thing is clear: the number of construction workers in New York who have been injured or even killed in falls is far too high. Just last month, construction worker Erik Mendoza was killed in a fall from a roof on a construction site in Brooklyn Heights. Mendoza was one of three New York City construction workers to be killed that week. Over the past 10 years, 78 New York City construction workers died in fall accidents. That is a staggering figure and no profession has even close to the number of fatalities over that time span. For some reason, despite this, there is far too little attention focused on improving worker safety and saving lives.
One could point out that construction deaths in New York City have been declining in recent years, which is true according to Deadly Skyline, an annual report on construction fatalities produced by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health. But it is hard to feel positive about the safety culture which New York City construction workers face after a report from THE CITY that the NYC Department of Buildings did not properly record all of the construction deaths which occurred in 2018.
It is not fair to spread blame for this accident before all of the facts have come to light. But it is troubling for this fall to occur on such a high-profile job. It is equally troubling to see the MTA give false excuses for the delay in service which resulted from this harrowing accident. Although proper fall protection is specific to the task being performed, a working culture that promotes safe practices and accountability is not a lot to ask for the construction workers who do so much to keep this city running.
At Block O’Toole & Murphy, we have successfully litigated cases involving construction workers injured in subway falls, such as this $12 million settlement for a tunnel worker who was injured in a fall accident while working on the 7 line extension project. Call 212-736-5300 for a free, no-obligation case review with one of our experienced attorneys.