The battle for stricter safety measures in New York has been going on for years and unfortunately, those fighting for increased safety are constantly given new examples of workplace hazards and safety issues in the form of workplace accidents. Two of the most recent accidents in Manhattan sadly claimed the lives of their victims.
Two Construction Workers Die On The Same Day
On Thursday, September 21st, 2017, Manhattan was struck by not just one tragedy but two.
The First Man To Fall
The first accident took place at a worksite in the Financial District where construction workers were actively working on a high-rise. At around 9:15 a.m., Juan Chonillo, a 43-year-old Queens resident was working on a platform on the 29th floor when he slipped and fell over the edge. He fell all the way down to the first floor where he landed on scaffolding.
Although coworkers rushed to his aid, he sustained serious bodily harm and by the time rescue workers had responded he was declared dead at the scene.
According to witnesses, the platform he had been standing on was shaking quite violently and although he did have a safety harness on, he wasn’t properly clipped in.
He leaves behind a large family including five children who are devastated by their loss.
Department Of Buildings Issues Partial Stop Work Order
Although the full investigation will take time, the Department of Buildings (DOB), has already issued a partial stop-work order for this construction site because they found that there was no permit approved for the use of a crane on site.
A further review of the history of this job site shows that since the beginning of the year, nine violations have been issued including $24,000 in fines. Only five of those violations have been resolved.
The Second Death
Just hours later at 2 p.m., at a building under construction in Hudson Yards, two 45-year-old workers who were in the process of operating a forklift cage, fell from the bucket they were riding in. They fell about 35-feet to the ground below. One survived the fall with head and body injuries and was taken to the hospital where he is being treated and is listed in stable condition. The other man, unfortunately, succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead.
Although it hasn’t been announced why they fell from the bucket, both men were also wearing safety harnesses that were not clipped in.
Could Mandatory Apprenticeships Increase Worker Safety?
Intro 1447 is a set of 21 bills which have been proposed and includes one bill which would require any worker who is going to work on a “major building” which is any building that is ten stories high or more, to undergo an apprenticeship program.
There is a strict divide among those who support and oppose this bill. Those that do support it believe that an apprenticeship will teach workers the skills they need to work at great heights and in hazardous conditions, setting them up for success. Those that oppose it say that the OSHA required safety training that is offered is already enough and that a forced apprenticeship would not only steer work away from nonunion employees but would also exclude African American and Hispanic employees from construction jobs.
Whatever the answer is, it’s clear that something needs to be done as these two men became the 16th and 17th workers to die on the job in New York this year.
Falls On The Job Are A Major Issue
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, falls on the job are part of the “Fatal Four” and were the cause of death in 364 out of 937 deaths in 2015. In addition to this, the number one cited safety violation is the failure to provide fall protection in the construction industry.
Even if the fall is from a standing position, the injuries sustained can be serious and frequently include head and spinal damage.
Anyone is has been diagnosed with head trauma or spinal damage, or who has assisted a loved one who was diagnosed with these injuries knows how expensive it can be to obtain treatments and even with the best medical care, the patient may never be able to fully function again, limiting their ability to work and enjoy everyday activities.
Even though workers’ compensation may be available, it typically isn’t enough to protect the injured worker from financial ruin, which is why many workers or their surviving loved ones choose to pursue legal action.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Depending on the circumstances, the surviving families of the two men who died this past September may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit if it is determined that another party’s negligence contributed to their loved one’s accident.
The award obtained through a lawsuit may provide the plaintiffs with compensation that will help them to stay financially safe even though they have lost a household income. In addition to this, it may provide monetary relief for their emotional loss, their loss of inheritance, and funeral and burial expenses.