Monday, November 30, 2015

Safety Lapses and Deaths Amid a Building Boom in New York

An increase in fatalities and injuries has mostly affected undocumented immigrant laborers and far exceeds the rate of new construction.

By David W. Chen, New York Times
November 26, 2015

Manuel Colorado, a 36-year-old construction worker, was installing decking last year at a new building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when he lost his balance and fell 19 feet to his death.

A few weeks later, a guest at the Dream Hotel in Midtown Manhattan heard someone screaming outside. Gurmeet Singh, a 58-year-old Indian immigrant doing facade work on the building, had tumbled eight stories off a scaffold and landed atop a sidewalk shed.

Twelve days after Mr. Singh’s death, Lukasz Stolarski, 33, plummeted 110 feet from the roof of an office building in Midtown where he had been attaching plywood to the parapet ledge.

New York City is experiencing a building boom that has transformed barren blocks and led to a frenzy of construction on commercial and residential buildings across all five boroughs. But that activity has come at a sobering cost: In the last two years, the number of workers hurt and killed in construction accidents has surged.

The rise in deaths and injuries — mostly among undocumented immigrant laborers — far exceeds the rate of new construction over the same period. It is stark evidence of the view increasingly held by safety inspectors, government officials and prosecutors, that safety measures at these job sites are woefully inadequate.[...]

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