A New York City construction worker died recently after a coping stone fell from the building he was working on. The piece of stone molding struck the man in the head as he stood on a scaffolding seven stories up. He was rescued from the scaffolding but died later at a hospital. He was 51.
According to a fire department official, the coping stone had been removed in order to anchor the scaffolding. As a result, the scaffolding came loose from the building, leaving two men dangling. The other man, a co-worker, does not appear to have been injured.
It was just before noon on Monday, April 8, when witnesses heard the victim shouting in Spanish, “I’m going to fall!” They looked up to see the man clinging for life seven stories up. Firefighters were able to get a ladder up to the building, break a window and pull the injured man inside. By that time, he was already unconscious.
The New York Times says it is unclear whether the fatally injured man was wearing a helmet or safety harness.
The building, the restoration company have checkered histories
The building where the tragedy occurred was among several that were damaged 11 years ago when a crane snapped from its anchors and struck an apartment. Seven people were killed, six of whom were construction workers.
The building’s owner obtained a permit last year to repair the building’s façade, including repointing the stone and fixing some window structures. The $48,000 project was being performed by VLAD Restoration.
According to the Times, last year VLAD Reconstruction and its owner settled an unpaid overtime lawsuit with six demolition workers who claimed they were owed $290,000. The group settled for $129,000.
Shortly after the incident, the fire department requested that the building be inspected for “partial façade collapse” because the site conditions were endangering the workers.
A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings promised an investigation into the cause of the incident, along with a determination of liability for any negligence or errors on the part of the building owner or the restoration company.
New York’s Scaffold Law could come into play
As with any work-related death, the deceased man’s survivors are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim for death benefits. At the same time, if anyone other than the man’s employer or co-workers was at fault for the incident, the family may also wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Also, New York’s Scaffold Law holds employers absolutely liable for falls from high elevations if they were not provided with proper safety equipment.
If you have questions about a New York construction or scaffolding accident, contact an experienced attorney right away.