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NYC Accident Traps Construction Workers

Friday, June 23, 2017

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Three workers were injured in a construction accident in Queens earlier this week when the roof of the building they were working on fell in.

Construction workers were converting a two-story brick residential building in Astoria into three stories when a load of supplies, which had been deposited by crane on the top floor, caused the roof to collapse. All three men were trapped in the basement, according to the New York City Fire Department.

The supplies that fell were 1,200-pound laminate beams, bags of cement, concrete blocks and sand aggregate, as well as some other items, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement.

The accident happened at 3:40 p.m. on June 20 at 31-25 28th Road. The street was closed until Wednesday morning, but residents were allowed to return to their homes.

Injured Employees

One of the injured workers—a 37-year-old man—had reportedly managed to drag himself to safety by the time fire crews arrived on the scene. He was seriously injured, but not critical. Salvador Hernandez, 42, was found trapped in the debris critically injured, and the third man—28 years old—was trapped under what the commissioner described as a few thousand pounds of construction materials. He was also critically injured.

According to reports, extricating the youngest of the three from the basement was not easy, as the man was trapped under numerous wooden planks, held in place all the way from his face down to his ankles. Juan Henriquez, an FDNY medic trained to respond to emergencies in confined spaces, reportedly administered medication intravenously.

“This was the real deal. He was entrapped. He was in a great deal of pain,” Henriquez said, according to the New York Daily News. “Initially, he was very scared.”

Site Conditions

Hernandez had voiced his concerns about the safety of the worksite to his wife, Socco Hernandez, some time before, the Daily News reports, and some are questioning why the load was delivered to the top floor.

“Materials should be delivered to the ground level,” Commissioner Timothy Hogan told the Daily News. “If materials are delivered to an upper level, they are supposed to be reviewed by an engineer to make sure that the structure they are putting the materials on can handle the weight.”

An engineer was not required to be onsite during the delivery.

City officials also reported that all of the necessary permits were in order, but that the NYC Department of Buildings and the FDNY would continue to monitor the building; this includes evaluating the order and engineering report that would have noted the structure’s weight limits.

All three men were taken NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, Nigro said.

OSHA History

According to OSHA, the general contractor on the site was Ideal Builders and Construction Services Inc., and the carpenter was CDW Carpentry Inc., each of which been cited once in recent years for violations, according to OSHA's online enforcement database.

Ideal Builders was issued a citation related to scaffolding on Oct. 13, 2015; the two violations listed came with proposed fines of $4,800 that were later reduced to $2,880 as part of an informal settlement. That case is listed as closed.

CDW Carpentry Inc. was issued a citation on Oct. 17, 2016, for a fall-protection violation. The $2,272 fine issued for that violation has been referred to debt collection, according to OSHA's records.

Department of Buildings Response

A representative of the New York City Department of Buildings told D+D News, "The Department has issued violations to the general contractor for 'failure to safeguard' the site and ordered all work on the project to cease," and that it "will determine whether further disciplinary actions are warranted as a result of this incident. Prior to Tuesday’s incident, the Department of Buildings had issued no violations at the site."

The department also "ordered the building owner to install a sidewalk shed in front of the property and construction fencing around the site. The Department’s Forensic Engineering Unit is currently investigating what additional factors may have contributed to the collapse and who is responsible."

Attempts to reach Ideal Builders and Construction Services, Inc. for comment Thursday (June 22) were unsuccessful.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Contractors; Health and safety; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; OSHA; Renovation

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