Lax Safety Blamed for Surge in NYC Construction Deaths

According to an exhaustive review by the New York Times, many recent construction site injuries and fatalities in Manhattan– mostly suffered by undocumented immigrants — were completely avoidable.  The city’s construction boom, taking place across all five boroughs, has come at a grim human cost with the needless death and catastrophic injury of numerous laborers.

Over the last two years, the number of injuries and construction fatalities in NYC has escalated alarmingly, pointing to concerns that workplace safety in these sites is wholly inadequate.

Recent construction site fatalities in NYC

The death tally includes a 36-year-old construction worker named Manuel Colorado, who fell 19 feet to his death while working in a Brooklyn building installing decking. Not long after this incident, 33-year-old worker Lukasz Stolarski fell off the roof of a Midtown office building, plunging more than 100 feet to his death.

An Indian immigrant by the name of Gurmeet Singh lost his life after tumbling off a scaffold at Manhattan’s Dream hotel, as he was doing façade repairs. He was only 58 years old.

A number of these deaths have taken place at construction sites in Midtown Manhattan, but the NY Times reports that other fatal accidents have occurred all over the city. Some of these fatalities involved non-union workers or poorly trained laborers, and barely made headlines.  In many of the cases, building contractors had a history of citations for safety violations.

Recent immigrants account for most deaths

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), at least seven construction workers have died on the job in New York City since July – a rate that is much higher than normal.

Besides obvious safety lapses, this spate of deaths underscores the fact that the city is embracing vertical construction using the comparatively cheap labor of recent immigrants, the majority of which are not legally allowed to work.

In the case of Gurmeet Singh, investigators discovered that the Indian immigrant was not wearing a mandatory harness at the time of his accident. The 58-year old man was also carrying a forged safety card that certified he had completed required safety training. Singh had been asked to perform exceedingly dangerous work at great heights without the benefits of guardrails, investigators later found. Working 140 feet off the ground, he had to scale a makeshift collection of cross-braces in order to get to his platform.

Last February, Singh’s family filed suit against his employer, Mr. Adalat Khan, in Queens State Supreme Court. A subcontractor for another company, Khan was accused of negligence and also withholding the decedent’s pay for three months.

The NY Times reports that some 100 new building inspectors will be hired under the de Blasio administration in an effort to address poor safety measures. Furthermore, the mayor’s office is investing in new methods to identify and take down non-compliant contractors as it ramps up measures to improve worker safety.

Construction workers who are harmed on the job without the benefit of proper training and the protection of guardrails, nets or safe working conditions have the law on their side. If you are the victim of someone else’s negligence or safety violations, Edelman, Krasin & Jaye can help you recover just compensation.

To learn more about filing a construction accident lawsuit in NY, please call 800-469-7429 for more information and to arrange a free consultation.