Two construction workers in Manhattan died within hours of each other in two separate accidents in September of this year.
In the first accident, two veteran construction workers fell while working on a 62-story mixed use building at 9th Avenue and 33rd Street. The men, both 45-years old, fell out of a bucket lift approximately 35 feet to the ground below. While they were wearing harnesses, other members of the construction team noted that they were apparently not attached to anything.
Medical teams rushed one person to the hospital, where he recovered. Unfortunately, the other construction worker fell on his face and was pronounced dead at the scene. The names of the two workers in the midtown accident were not released to the press, pending an investigation by the Department of Buildings.
The second accident occurred only hours earlier in downtown Manhattan. There, Juan Chonillo fell through a hole in the floor and down 27 stories to his death. Chonillo, who fell all the way to the street-level of Maiden Street, had been working as a carpenter for the high-rise luxury residence being built at the site. The 45-year-old man was an immigrant from Eucador and supported his six children that still live there. Chorillo was pronounced dead at the scene.
Since January, city inspectors have cited the lower Manhattan construction site with at least ten violations.
The accidents have emboldened labor rights activists. The Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, which represents more than a dozen unions, said there is a need for stronger safety protections and lengthier training for construction workers.
The number of construction accidents in recent years has skyrocketed, largely in response to the building boom. In 2017, construction accidents were up more than 18 percent since last year – to a whopping 622 accidents.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the organization said, “Today is a devastating day for our industry as we mourn the tragic deaths of two construction workers. Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in New York City and even the best trained workers are not immune to accidents.”
The industry may have gotten its wish when “Carlos law” was signed on October 17 by Mayor de Blasio. The new law will mandate at least 40 hours of training for the thousands of construction workers in the city. The city has pledged to fund some of the training. With a mere $5 million budget, real estate development companies have complained that they will bear the brunt of the costs.