The construction accident in Queens that claimed the life of a 42-year old construction worker late last month may have been avoidable. Investigators have discovered that the building contractor in charge of the jobsite had been fined by OSHA before for multiple violations including fall safety hazards.
The unnamed man fell through a hole in the first floor of a new Astoria apartment building and plummeted to the basement below. Rescue workers responded to the 45th Street worksite and attempted, unsuccessfully, to revive the man. The victim was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
This type of accident is not a unique occurrence. Construction accidents involving falls are the leading killer at jobsites nationwide. Top among OSHA's "Fatal Four," (which also includes electrocution, being struck by objects, and being trapped between object) falls accounted for over 1/3 of the 721 deadly construction accidents in 2011. This accident occurred January 24th and was the second such over a two-day period in the Big Apple.
Eye witnesses say the man struck his head on a steel girder on the way down causing a gruesome head wound (which is the likely cause of death). One shaken witness recounted the scene to reporters saying: "his head was covered in blood."
These two back-to-back tragedies illustrate an alarming statistic. There are nearly 4 million workplace accidents every year in the United States and every day construction accidents claim the lives of two workers. Unfortunately many of those deaths are preventable.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is charged with keeping a watchful eye not only on construction sites but worksites of every kind. Every year OSHA investigates roughly 38,000 workplaces but with just over 2,000 inspectors the agency is stretched thin.
This isn't the first time that Centex has been involved in an OSHA investigation. Foreshadowing this recent tragedy, Centex was cited for fall protection safety violations in 2008. At the time they were also hit with 20 additional infractions that OSHA classified as "serious." The company was ordered to pay over $8,000 in fines.
Centex could face massive fines, criminal action, and multiple civil lawsuits if found responsible. Such a ruling would open up legal avenues for the surviving family members to seek compensation for their loss with help from a personal injury attorney.
If you or a loved one has been injured on a construction site, contact an experienced attorney who specializes in construction workplace accidents to obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries, lost wages and unpaid medical expenses.