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Concrete Slab Crushes Worker in NYC

Thursday, September 25, 2014

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A New Jersey construction worker was fatally crushed this week by a concrete slab while working on a New York City project being built by a budget hotel developer with a history of building violations.

Rodolfo (also reported as Rodalfo) Vasquez-Galian, 27, of Jersey City, was pronounced dead at the scene.

About 1:30 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 23), Vasquez-Galian was part of a crew excavating soil around the foundation of a building in Midtown Manhattan when an 8,000-pound slab of concrete fell from the building and landed on him, according to a New York Times report.

NYC construction site
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Rodolfo Vasquez-Galian, 27, of Jersey City, was killed Tuesday (Sept. 23) in Midtown Manhattan after a concrete slab fell on him at hotel construction site.

Officials said another worker was able to escape the slab, but Vasquez-Galian was pinned underneath it.

The hotel is being built by the McSam Hotel Group, owned by Taiwanese-born Sam Chang, one of New York's largest hotel developers, who specializes in economy hotels. The general contractor on the project is Cava Construction Company, but it was not immediately clear for whom Velasquez-Galian worked.

Excavation, Concrete Studied

Rick Chandler, commissioner of the New York City Buildings Department, told the Times that excavation of the hotel site “compromised the foundation of the neighboring building.”

Chandler also told am New York that the slab that fell "was not appropriately connected to the piece of concrete that was above it."

“It appears that the piece of concrete that was placed above it might have been done at a separate time so they were done in two different masses.”

Officials ordered an evacuation of the neighboring building, fearing the collapse might have affected its stability, but allowed tenants to return later that day, The New York Post reported.

Construction at the site, a forme parking lot, has been halted indefinitely.

Earlier Complaints

Eyewitness David Cruz saw the accident from nearby and said Vasquez-Galian’s eyes were closed and appeared unconscious when he was finally rescued from the concrete.

Sam Chang
The Real Deal

Sam Chang, owner of McSam Hotel Group, is the developer of the property in Midtown Manhattan where a concrete slab fell on a construction worker.

The proposed hotel was set to be 22 stories high with more than 240 guest rooms, according to plans the developer filed with the city.

In August, construction was partially shut down at the site for a day because of safety violations. In May, a complaint alleged that the construction was causing vibrations in neighboring buildings, but it was dismissed after a city inspection.

“It’s sad when something like this happens,” FDNY Deputy Chief Joseph Carlsen told am New York. “It’s a tragedy. My heart goes out to the family of the man.”

The Developer

While popular among budget travelers, Chang's project have not been so popular with community boards or construction and hotel workers’ unions.

According to the Times report, Chang’s construction company, Tritel, has been cited for more than 200 building violations since 2006, including a stop-work order on an 11-story Union Square hotel for safety violations.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Building codes; Construction; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Hotels; North America

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