On Monday, June 26, six construction workers were injured when a 20-foot-by-20-foot wooden form failed to hold the concrete they were pouring into it on the eighth floor of a proposed apartment complex in Queens. Five workers were in serious but stable condition after the accident, and one had minor injuries. A witness recalled hearing a “loud crack” and seeing concrete “spewing over the side.” The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a stop work order and a citation for failing to safeguard the site.
A spokesperson for general contractor Galaxy Developers told Spectrum News that “workers for a subcontractor” were pouring concrete when the mold gave way. The workers fell to a floor below, sustaining injuries to “their backs, arms and legs and were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment,” according to The Real Deal, a real estate blog.
The site, at 42-20 27th Street between Queens Plaza South and 42nd Road in Long Island City, is owned by the Rabsky Group, one of the largest residential developers in Brooklyn and Queens. The project is an 18-story apartment building containing 195 units. The 140,000-square-foot building also promises to hold 3,000 square feet of commercial space. But the project has already received 18 complaints and has been issued two stop-work orders, one for failing to protect an excavation site and another for working after hours without approval.
Construction workers are protected by New York’s scaffold law, the only law in the country that imposes absolute liability on gravity-related construction accidents. This means that if the owner of a worksite or the contractor failed to provide adequate safety measure in accordance with the law, workers do not have to prove the owner was negligent, and owners cannot use the negligence of the worker as a defense.
Construction workers are covered by workers’ compensation, but a DOB finding that the scaffolding at this worksite was inadequate would allow the injured workers to sue and recover full compensation for their injuries. That would mean full wage replacement, payment for pain and suffering, and other damages.