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Worker Seriously Injured in Fall at Unfinished Stairwell in Brooklyn

A construction worker suffered serious head injuries after falling down a building shaft at a construction site in Brooklyn on Friday, May 10, 2019. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition. Work at the site has been halted, and the contractor responsible for the site has been cited with multiple safety violations. 

The worker was preparing to install masonry around a shaft where stairs were going to be installed, according to NY Daily News. Witnesses claimed that he was using a crowbar to remove a plank from around the shaft when he fell roughly 10 feet to the concrete basement below. It is reported that he was not wearing a safety harness at the time, nor was there a guardrail system in place.

The general contractor responsible for the jobsite at 19 Richardson Street is Avo Construction, LLC. In the wake of this tragic accident, a full stop work order was issued along with six safety violations, including an "aggravated penalty" for failure to safeguard the site, according to a spokesperson from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB).

Avo Construction, LLC has a troubled history of safety violations at this jobsite, according to DOB records. In April 2018, a full stop work order was issued for "failure to protect adjoining structures" after a demolition that took place in November 2017. This stop work order was rescinded and work was allowed to continue in August 2018. Then, in February 2019, a partial stop work order was issued at the site regarding "insulation placement," although it is reported that other work was allowed to continue.

The latest stop work order has been issued under complaint category 91, "Site Conditions Endangering Workers."

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the injured worker and his loved ones during this trying time.

Barring new information revealed in the forthcoming DOB investigation, it seems that this accident may have occurred because worker safety was not prioritized on this construction site. While this is a sad realization, unfortunately, it is more common than you may realize.

Seventy-eight NYC construction workers have lost their lives in falls over the past 10 years, according to Deadly Skyline, an annual construction fatality report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH). Nationwide, the number of American workers killed in fatal falls reached an all-time high in 2017.

The danger that falls pose on construction sites is not a new one. Falls regularly lead OSHA's Fatal Four, or the most common causes of fatal construction accidents. Despite this long-standing trend, too many construction workers in New York City and State continue to be seriously injured and even killed in fall accidents which should be preventable.

Just last month, construction worker Erik Mendoza was killed in a fall from a roof at a construction site in Brooklyn Heights. Tragically, Mendoza was one of three workers to be killed in a New York City construction accident that week.

Construction falls are preventable events, if employers choose to prioritize worker safety. This was a key message of the weeklong National Safety Stand-Down to prevent construction falls, which took place the week of May 6-10. The goal of the Stand-Down is to inspire conversations between employers and employees about how falls can be prevented, and the campaign carries four core messages:

  • Falls are preventable
  • Contractors and employees should plan together to make fall prevention a priority
  • Contractors need to provide fall safety equipment for workers to make use of
  • Contractors need to train workers so that they can use properly use this equipment

More information will be required to definitively conclude if Avo Construction, LLC failed to take reasonable steps to prevent an accident for a job where the presence of a fall hazard was foreseeable. The information that is currently available, however, indicates that workers at this jobsite may have been subjected to unnecessarily dangerous working conditions.

We hope that the victim of this accident is able to make a swift and complete recovery from his injuries. We also hope that the family is fairly compensated for the financial burden and emotional trauma that such an accident creates. If you or a loved one have been injured in a construction accident caused by improper safety practices, call 212-736-5300 for a free legal consultation.