Construction worker Giuseppe Pagano was tragically killed after falling nearly 30 feet from an unguarded scaffold on a construction site near Grand Central Station on Saturday, May 18, 2019. He is at least the fourth construction worker in New York City to be killed in a work accident this year.
The Real Deal reports that Mr. Pagano was cleaning debris on the scaffold when he fell through a portion which did not have guardrails. He fell from the fifth floor down to the second and was rushed to Bellevue Hospital where he was tragically pronounced dead, according to NBC.
The Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a full stop work order to the jobsite, which is located at 335 Madison Avenue near Grand Central Station and owned by Milstein Properties. A representative from the DOB has indicated that guardrails were required at the construction site. The agency is still investigating the accident but intends to file work safety violations, likely for the failure to provide Mr. Pagano with the proper fall protection equipment which could have saved his life.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of Mr. Pagano. This is another senseless tragedy where a hard-working construction worker has died on the job in an accident that should have been preventable.
The developer of the site, Milstein Properties, released a statement indicating that they “take site safety extremely seriously” and will be working with the construction manager and city investigators “on a thorough and detailed review of this incident.”
The company responsible for managing the construction site, Sciame Construction, has also come out and said that they are working with the city in its investigation and “to ensure that every protocol is in place to keep our construction workers and worksites safe.”
A “representative for the project” said that a subcontractor may have been responsible for removing “a section of guardrail on a work floor where an interior curtain wall system was being installed,” according to The Real Deal. The DOB’s investigation will likely try to identify which party was responsible for removing the fall protection equipment which was legally required.
This is a very troubling accident that reflects poorly on the work safety culture at this construction site. The dangers that fall hazards pose to construction workers is very well-understood, as just earlier this month the week-long National Safety Stand-Down was held to raise awareness about the importance of worker safety and prevent fatal fall accidents from occurring on construction sites. There is no excuse for these types of accidents to occur.
Despite this, New York City construction workers continue to be severely injured and killed in falls. Just last month, 23-year-old Erik Mendoza was killed in a fall from a roof in Brooklyn Heights. Earlier this month, one worker was injured in a fall onto subway tracks in Sunset Park, while another suffered severe head injuries in a fall down an unfinished stairwell in Brooklyn.
There is no other profession in New York City that suffers serious injuries and fatalities at this rate. It isn’t even close. How many more construction workers need to be killed before real changes are made?
As a city, we need to demand more from those who are responsible for the safety of their workers and the politicians who have the opportunity to strengthen worker safety laws.
Nobody is suggesting that people actively are promoting the idea of unsafe work conditions. In theory, everybody “supports” worker safety. The question that needs to be asked, and is too often ignored, is how often do those responsible for worker safety actually make it a real priority? It is not enough to pay lip service after an accident has occurred. Making worker safety a real priority is required even in the face of deadlines and diminishing profit margins.
Committing to worker safety means making it a priority, every day, every shift, so that accidents can be prevented before they ever occur. Safety isn’t something you say – it’s something you commit to, even if it costs you money.
Numerous attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy serve on the New York State Trial Lawyers Association Labor Law Committee in an ongoing effort to fight for the rights of New York construction workers. We have also won numerous cases for construction workers seriously injured in fall accidents, such as this $12,000,000 settlement for a worker injured in a fall on a subway extension project. If somebody you love has been seriously injured or killed on a construction site, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to receive a free legal consultation.