Death Toll from Construction Accidents Still High as New Safety Bill Comes into Effect

roof-work-300x200A construction worker’s death in Chelsea last month marked the ninth construction death in New York City for 2017. The 34-year-old man, Przemyskaw Krawczyk, was standing on the sidewalk next to the building when an anchoring bracket fell on him. According to the New York Daily News, the piece of metal fell over ten stories before striking the man. Krawczyk was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The scaffolding fell from 61 Ninth Ave., a high-rise commercial development directly across from Chelsea Market and Google’s New York headquarters. The construction operation on the building was previously cited numerous times by the New York Department of Buildings. The construction site was partially shut down twice since May of the same year. Several of the code violations dealt with the scaffolding around the construction site.

Responding to the horrific construction accident, Buildings Department spokesman Joseph Soldevere told the New York Daily News, “This tragedy appears to have been completely preventable and we are taking enforcement actions against all parties involved.”

The unfortunate death of Krawczyk marked the ninth death from a construction accident in New York City during 2017, according to the Department of Buildings. In 2016, 12 workers died. Since the construction boom began in New York City began in 2006, a total of 485 construction workers have died in the city.

In response to the uptick in construction accidents and deaths, Mayor de Blasio and the City Council passed a new safety law for construction workers. Signed into law in September 2017, the new safety bill will mandate between 40 and 55 hours of safety training. A mandatory “refresher” course will also be required for construction companies.

It appears the New York City Council does not plan on stopping with the safety bill, though. According to the New York Post, two City Council members have proposed a new bill to standardize the damages awards resulting from construction accidents. While the previous safety bill was friendlier towards the interests of construction workers, the new bill is an attempt to mollify construction companies. First, the bill would place a civil-penalty cap on damages. Under the proposed law, victims of construction mishaps would not be awarded more than $500,000 per accident. The liability of individuals responsible for creating the hazardous conditions that lead to construction accidents would also be limited to $150,000.

Perhaps more importantly, the law would allow for a judge to consider a construction company’s “ability to pay” when deciding the appropriate award in a construction accident. Meant to prevent construction companies from being sued out of business, the unions representing construction workers decried the new legislation as putting the interests of construction companies over the injured workers and their families. Mayor de Blasio has not commented on whether he intends to sign the bill into law if it were passed by the City Council.


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