A worker named Rene Chavarria was killed in a tragic accident that occurred when he was welding the bucket of an excavator at New York Recycling in the Bronx on Saturday, July 13, 2019.
The bucket of the excavator was suspended while Chavarria welded it inside a garage on the property of the concrete-recycling center, according to the New York Post. Sadly, for reasons that have not yet been determined, the bucket fell onto his torso, crushing him. Medics were called to the scene, but he could not be saved and was pronounced dead at the scene.
There was no active construction taking place at the property, according to a spokesperson from the Department of Buildings. Instead, the machine was used for day-to-day operations at New York Recycling, which is located on Exterior Street in Mott Haven. The company has not yet publicly commented on the fatal accident.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the devastated friends and family of Rene Chavarria.
This accident is a very sad reminder of how carefully employers must treat heavy machinery that they ask their workers to use. The New York Daily News reported that Chavarria was working to repair the excavator bucket when the fatal accident occurred, raising questions about why the vehicle was taken out of commission in the first place.
Employers have a legal responsibility to create safe working environments for their employees, especially when the work being performed comes with predictable hazards. NBC reported that the bucket weighed at least 2,000 pounds. Investigators will very likely try to determine if anybody at the company had any knowledge that the bucket could be at risk of falling in the manner that it did.
This engineering white paper indicates that excavator buckets are sometimes misused by operators “for operations like lifting and repositioning the machine.” This type of operator misuse stresses the bucket in unintended ways and is the “main offender in the creation of bucket issues” that could lead to an unexpected excavator bucket failure.
It is the responsibility of the excavator operator to use the machine as the manufacturer intended, and as they were trained to do. Investigators will likely try to determine what type of training the excavator operators at this company have received, and if the operator followed that training in the days and weeks prior to this accident.
Before every work shift in which the excavator is going to be used, it is the operator’s responsibility to inspect the machine for signs of defects, such as cracking or excessive wear near the bucket. It is possible that such an inspection is what led to the excavator being repaired in the first place. Even if this is the case, however, Rene Chavarria should have been given more information so that he could do his job safely. Unfortunately, that is not what happened, and it cost this hard-working man his life while he simply tried to earn a paycheck.
Ultimately, it is impossible to assign blame to any party for this fatal accident without more information. This must be incredibly frustrating for the family, even though there is no explanation that can undo the grief caused by this unexpected death.
The construction accident attorneys of Block O’Toole & Murphy have a history of successfully litigating wrongful death lawsuits stemming from construction accidents, such as this $2,250,000 settlement after a fatal elevator accident occurred during maintenance. If you have lost someone you loved in a fatal work accident that never should have happened, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to receive a free legal consultation.