Two New York City construction workers working at separate sites fell to their deaths last Thursday. The fatal accidents occurred at two Manhattan sites with a history of safety issues.
Another worker was seriously injured in one of the accidents, reports the New York Daily News.
One worker, Juan Chonillo, father of five, plunged 29 stories from a construction site on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan. He was declared dead at the scene.
“They were freeing the crane from the building,” said Chonillo’s cousin. “The cable got stuck somehow.” His cousin said he was certified, trained and always careful.
Chonillo was allegedly wearing a harness, but it was not hooked up.
Workers were in the process of raising a concrete framework to begin pouring the 29th floor of a 670-foot luxury condo.
City building inspectors had issued a partial stop-work order at the site on Wednesday due to the crane’s unsafe operation. That order was still in effect on Thursday when the accident occurred. Inspectors said no approved permit for the crane had been found.
That particular site has been hit with nine code violations and has been fined thousands of dollars since January. One fine was $10,000 for using a crane without a warning light system.
The second incident occurred later in the afternoon, when two workers fell from a bucket lift at the third floor of a building on Ninth Avenue. Witnesses said it appeared that the workers were wearing safety harnesses, but the harnesses were not secured to the bucket.
The accident marked the second time a worker died at that site, with a previous incident occurring in June.
“We are deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy and we are actively cooperating with all relevant agencies to investigate the matter,” said a spokesman for Tishman Construction, the contractor the second site.
The two accidents have renewed calls for better safety at New York City’s construction sites.
Gary LaBarbera, president of Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said that the construction sector is “one of the most dangerous industries in New York City and even the best trained workers are not immune to accidents.”
LaBarbera has called for the city to come together to ensure that everyone does everything in their power to reduce the accidents and fatalities in New York City.
Construction safety is becoming an increasing concern in major cities throughout the United States. Texas has the highest rate of excess deaths, topping California which has a larger workforce. In New York City alone, there were 74 construction fatalities in 2015.
In states like Texas, employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which leaves workers with little recourse if an accident does occur.
Back in New York City, the City Council has approved a bill that would improve on the database of who gets killed or hurt in a fall. The status of a more controversial bill, which would require construction workers to undergo safety training and an apprenticeship course, is still uncertain.