The city’s construction business, particularly outside of Manhattan, is becoming the modern version of the 19th-century coal mine.
Between early 2006 and the middle of 2007, 44 people died on construction sites, 40 of them in nonunion jobs involving immigrants, said Louis Coletti, the president of an association of builders. Most of those deaths took place in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, records show. Miczyslaw Piatek, 52, was digging a foundation in Brooklyn when the cinder-block wall next door collapsed on him. The wall had not been shored up, a federal investigation found.
Construction Is Up, Inspectors Down. Guess What?
A basic principle of engineering is redundancy: disaster must be preceded by the failure of more than one system. The builders on a $100 million skyscraper in Manhattan are far more likely to have pressure to follow safety standards, not just from the government, but from insurers.
For many smaller projects, there is no one but government to look over the shoulders of contractors. Many of the workers don’t speak English, don’t have papers and simply do what they are told. They will not tie down a plank, or they won’t have a safety harness on, or they will drive a small forklift with too much loaded on it. Such accidents are written off as human error. It happens to be the only kind we have.
More outrage from the Queens Gazette.