Immigrant workers have a high rate of injury or death in the jobs they find in the U.S. In the next post I will cite statistics on immigrant worker injuries.
January 14, 2008, 2:31 pm
Worker Is Killed in Accident at Trump SoHo Tower
updated, 6:15 p.m. | A construction worker plunged to his death, and two others were injured, after a wooden structure on the 42nd floor of the Trump SoHo hotel and condominium tower under construction in Manhattan collapsed, city officials said. The building, which is to rise 46 stories, has been a persistent source of debate, with community groups complaining about its size and proposed use, even before construction began last May.
The worker fell from the 42nd story — the uppermost story built so far — at 1:52 p.m. when the wooden structure broke apart while concrete was being poured into it, Assistant Chief Thomas Galvin of the Fire Department said at an afternoon news conference. A second worker fell from the 42nd story but was saved by some netting around the 40th floor. That worker was hospitalized with injuries. One other worker suffered minor injuries. All three workers were employed by DiFama Concrete, a concrete subcontractor for Bovis Lend Lease, the general contractor.
It was unclear how far the dead worker fell, but initial police estimates said the distance was at least 30 feet. A second worker fell from several stories into some netting, and was rescued, with injuries. The collapse occurred at 1:52 p.m. at the hotel and tower, at 246 Spring Street near Varick Street, west of the heart of SoHo. Witnesses reported that a large number of firefighters and emergency medical workers converged on the area, as did police officers from the First Precinct.
The accident tangled traffic in the area, especially around the entrance to the nearby Holland Tunnel late into the afternoon.
The company managing work at the site, Bovis Lend Lease, is the same company that oversaw demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building in Lower Manhattan, where two firefighters were killed in August in a blaze that swept through the contaminated structure.
The Buildings Department announced in the late afternoon that it had ordered all work stopped at the building. The department said in a statement:
Preliminary reports indicate the concrete formwork on the 42nd floor failed, leading to part of the formwork collapsing onto the 40th floor. Buildings forensic engineers have determined the new building under construction is not in danger of further collapse and the crane at the site is stable.
Buildings forensic engineers are conducting interviews and assessing the construction site to determine the exact cause of the partial collapse.
The Buildings Department is vacating the top two floors of two neighboring buildings, 145 and 155 Sixth Avenue, as a safety precaution. The vacate orders will remain in effect until the general contractor at 246 Spring Street, Bovis Lend Lease, makes the construction site safe.
The department also announced that it had issued four violations to Bovis Lend Lease for failing to safeguard the public and property, maintain adequate housekeeping, provide a fire escape hatch, and provide adequate fire extinguishers.
Last month, The New York Times reported that an employee of the Bayrock Group who is involved in the project, Felix H. Sater, was accused by federal authorities in 1998 of money laundering and stock manipulation in a federal complaint that remains under seal. A subsequent indictment in 2000 stemming from the same investigation described Mr. Sater as an “unindicted co-conspirator” and an important figure in a $40 million scheme involving 19 stockbrokers and organized crime figures from four Mafia families. The indictment asserted that Mr. Sater helped create fraudulent stock brokerages that were used to defraud investors and launder money.
Mr. Sater and his lawyer, Judd Burstein, repeatedly refused to discuss in detail his role in the stock scheme. Mr. Sater now spells his last name Satter, he said, in an attempt to distance himself from the past. Neither Bayrock nor Mr. Trump has been accused of wrongdoing.
In September, Mr. Trump and his three children held a news conference at the tower to announce details of the project, even as dozens of opponents gathered outside in protest, holding up placards that read “Dump the Trump” and “Don’t Comb Over Here.”
The building will include 400 apartments priced at more than $3,000 per square foot; those apartments will range from 425 square-foot studios to suites of more than 10,000 square feet. Owners will be permitted to live in those apartments for 120 days out of the year, or 29 days out of any consecutive 36 days; when not living there, owners will be able to rent out their apartments.
As Rob Walker noted in The Times Magazine in October, SoHo long ago shed its reputation as a scruffy haven for artists. The project is being cast as “the downtowning of Trump,” Mr. Walker wrote.
A coalition of public officials and community groups have opposed the project, including several state and city lawmakers, the Municipal Art Society and four Community Boards in Manhattan.
“Once the city issued the building permit, the only recourse was to take the city to court, and that is in process,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of one of the groups, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which has argued that the zoning for the site does not permit a hotel-condominium, an interpretation the city has disagreed with. “Neighbors have commented on the phenomenal pace of construction, which some speculated was an attempt to head off the legal challenge. People were amazed at how quickly the construction seemed to go. So tragically, in some ways this is not surprising.”
The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, where the appeal of the Buildings Department’s decision was filed, has not yet set a date to hear the case. “The city has seemed to do everything in its power to shepherd this through and put the brake on community challenges,” Mr. Berman said.
In a statement, the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer, said that safety violations at the construction site had been reported in recent months:
The accident at the new hotel at 246 Spring Street is another example of the dangerous conditions created by rushed construction in Manhattan. My office did an initial investigation of violations at the site and discovered that there were two Class A violations issued on Oct. 26, 2007. These violations are considered high risk. However, the construction was allowed to continue unchecked and the Environmental Control Board hearing to review the violations was not scheduled until Jan. 24, 2008.
This is unacceptable. The death and injury of construction workers and the compromised safety of emergency responders and surrounding community should not be considered the cost of doing business in Manhattan. Any type of high risk violation should necessitate a halt of unsafe work until the violation is cured. I will continue to investigate this matter and look to see rapid response from all relevant city agencies. I applaud the fire, police and other emergency responders for their bravery and for putting themselves at risk to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.
Later this afternoon, the Buildings Department said 11 construction-related Environmental Control Board violations had been cited at 246 since construction began in May 2007. The prior violations included violations for operating the crane in an unsafe manner, failing to provide a flagman during hoisting operations and failing to close the sidewalk before hoisting loads over the sidewalk. Eight of the 11 violations were issued to Bovis Lend Lease.
At the news conference, Patricia J. Lancaster, the commissioner of the Buildings Department, said that remedial work would continue this evening to clear away debris from the site. No construction work will resume on the building until the department is convinced that work can be performed safely, she said.
Aurora Kessler, a spokeswoman for the Trump SoHo project, referred a request for comment to Mary Costello, a spokeswoman for Bovis Lend Lease. Ms. Costello said in an e-mail message sent several hours later, “We are in the process of conducting our own investigation with our concrete subcontractor, while working with local authorities, to determine the cause of this tragic accident. Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased concrete worker and our prayers are with the injured workers.
Charles V. Bagli, Al Baker, Thomas J. Lueck and Mathew R. Warren contributed reporting.
"One Dead in Trump Building Collapse," New York Daily News, January, 2008.