On the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, a painter was tragically killed and another was injured when the two fell from the Manhattan Bridge. The two men were reportedly working on painting the Manhattan side of the bridge when they fell.
The victim who lost his life was just 37 years old. He was working as part of a 10-person crew employed by Champion Specialty Services, a subcontractor for Skanska, the construction company hired by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to work on the bridge. The entire crew was reportedly using safety harnesses while working.
According to police, at one point, the crew needed to change positions which required them to unhook and reattach their safety harnesses. It was at this moment the 37-year-old painter lost his footing and fell 100 feet to the ground below, landing near Pike Slip and South Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones at this time.
Jacqueline Hurd, a retired sanitation worker who lives in the area told reporters about the frightening incident, saying, “He was down on the ground. It was awful…when they placed the sheet over him, it turned bloody. It gave me chills.”
Shortly after, another worker, 55, fell from the bridge onto a nearby building. First responders brought him to Bellevue Hospital where he is thankfully in stable condition.
Seth Stein, a spokesperson for the DOT, shared, “It is too soon to determine what led to this incident with our contractor.” However, according to news reports, police explained the two men were “switching locations where the harness was attached, there was a strong wind, and they fell.” A thorough investigation must take place to ultimately determine what caused these two men to fall and hopefully provide information that will prevent this from happening again.
Falls are one of the most common causes of serious injuries in the construction industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fall protection must be provided by employers for all employees working at an elevation of six feet or higher. Proper fall protection includes not only equipment, but training, procedures, and rules that keep individuals safe while working from dangerous heights. For bridge work, contractors can use fall prevention and fall arrest systems to keep their workers safe. Fall prevention systems, such as guardrails and personal fall restraint systems prevent the fall from happening. Fall arrest systems, such as safety nets and personal fall arrest systems, stop the fall after it has happened.
It is the responsibility of employers, property owners, and general contractors to provide a safe work environment to all of their employees. If an employee is seriously injured because of an unsafe environment resulting from the negligence of an employer, property owner, or general contractor, they can hold the negligent party accountable for the injuries and damages that occurred. A full investigation is required to determine what led the two painters to fall from the Manhattan Bridge. If it is found that the falls resulted from negligent behavior on the part of an employer, property owner, or general contractor, then the injured worker and the family of the worker who passed may be able to take legal action to obtain compensation for their losses.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a construction accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form to speak with one of Block O’Toole & Murphy’s skilled construction accident lawyers today.