A construction worker was tragically killed on Thursday, May 27, 2021 when he fell from the roof of a building he was working on in Brooklyn. He was breaking apart a section of the roof when the floor collapsed under him. A bystander who saw the accident said that “he was working on the roof and it just fell in.” According to the Department of Buildings, he fell 40 feet to the ground. Although the 49-year-old worker was taken to the hospital immediately, he sadly succumbed to his injuries soon after arriving.
The site of the accident was the Flatbush Savings Bank on Flatbush Avenue. The site had active permits for demolition work, but a stop work order has since been placed on the building. The DOB has also begun an investigation.
This was the third fatal construction accident in just over a week in New York. On Saturday, May 22, a worker fatally fell from a scaffold on the sixth floor of a building in Queens. On Wednesday, May 19, a construction supervisor was killed and a second worker was injured in a Bronx elevator collapse. Commissioner Melanie La Rocca commented on the tragedy of these deaths in a statement: “This is a sobering reminder that as our city gets back to work that the industry must do more to keep workers safe. Anything less is wholly unacceptable.”
The commissioner is correct; just one of these accidents is unacceptable, and three in one week is unthinkable. These tragedies are often entirely avoidable. New York needs to take better care of its construction workers. Our thoughts are with the loved ones and coworkers of the deceased worker. No construction worker should have to labor on a site that is not safe or fear for their well-being while they are on the job.
Although the DOB is still investigating this accident, it is clear that not enough was done to keep workers on the site safe. The New York Daily News reports that the worker was not wearing a safety harness when the accident occurred. A witness of the accident wondered, “If he was working in a dangerous area, why wasn’t he strapped in?”
The DOB says themselves that falling is the most common cause of construction fatalities and employers have a responsibility to provide their workers with a safe work environment. According to the DOB, a safe work environment that would prevent falls must have:
- Fall protection such as guardrails, netting, or a solid barrier around floor openings or building edges
- Guardrails and toeboards at all unenclosed perimeters
- Safety harnesses connected to approved anchor points for all workers
Additionally, the NYC Building Code lays out specific rules for preparing a site for demolition to ensure that it is done safely and avoids collapse. If those rules are not followed, workers may suffer the consequences.
Remember, as a worker, it is your right to have a safe work environment. If you are not given a safety harness and are being asked to work from heights, or you notice that there are openings or building edges that are not protected by guardrails or other fall protection, your employer may not be following the law. You can call 311 to report hazardous working conditions.
If you or a loved one has been injured on a construction site and you believe the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may have legal recourse. The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have worked with numerous construction accident victims and their families, and are here to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Dial 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form to speak to an expert attorney today about your case.