Increasing Concerns Over Worker Safety in New York

Three Metro-North construction workers were injured in March when an iron beam fell off a truck and pinned the workers to the railroad tracks in East Harlem. According to the New York Post, a 2-by-3 foot  beam fell on Track 3 at East 100th Street and Park Avenue. All three of the construction workers involved in the accident were taken to the hospital, two suffered significant injuries when the beam fell on them and the third construction worker injured his leg.

The accident comes on the heels of the death of an MTA worker in the same month at the 125th street station. In that instance, the MTA worker, identified as St. Clair Richards-Stephens by the New York Post, was walking on a wooden rail when it collapsed. Richards-Stephens fell approximately 20 feet to the lower-level of the station and, after frantic efforts to revive the construction worker by medical personnel, was declared dead at the scene.

Both the MTA and the union representing Richards-Stephens, Transport Workers Union Local 100, are conducting a joint investigation into the facts of the accident. Preliminary results were released a month ago and appeared to show that Richard-Stephens tripped while cleaning debris in the tunnel. Losing his balance, the construction worker then fell into the wooden rail and plunged to his death.

Richards-Stephens weighed over 300 pounds, potentially a contributing factor in the fatal accident. According to the MTA, it is unknown who installed the wooden rail or whether it was designed to support the construction worker’s weight. The construction worker’s union has called for the removal of all wooden rails throughout the transit system, with President Tony Utano saying “This has to be done now. We don’t want another tragedy to occur.”

If the final results of the investigation fault the wooden rails, this will be the second time that a loose or weakened rail has led to tragedy in a year. In June 2017, investigators blamed an improperly secured rail when an A train derailed at the 125th Street station in Harlem and injured dozens of subway riders. Altogether, it appears that the subway system’s decaying infrastructure is not just causing riders to be late to work but actually endangering the workers and riders that depend on New York’s transit system.

Contact G&G if you have been injured at work.

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