Fatal demolition accident raises questions about worker safety

Demolition company had history of problems, including a previous fatality

A construction worker has died after a roof collapsed on him during a demolition project on Staten Island, according to the Staten Island Advance. Although other workers on the project managed to escape, the deceased man was trapped by the falling debris and was later declared dead in hospital. The demolition company involved in this incident has a long history of safety problems, including violations at this particular site as well as a fatality at another site that led to a criminally negligent homicide charge against the company's owner.

Concrete roof collapses

This latest accident occurred while construction workers were demolishing a large car dealership in Travis in November. Four workers were reportedly inside the building when the concrete mezzanine level, measuring 50 by 100 feet, collapsed onto them. Three of the workers managed to escape, but the fourth became pinned under the rubble.

That man was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead soon after. Only the construction workers were in the building at the time of the collapse as the car dealership's employees had recently moved into a new building next door.

Safety concerns raised

As the New York Times notes, this accident is hardly the first time safety concerns have been raised about this particular demolition company. The company had already received two citations for its work on this particular car dealership site due to a job-site fence violation and the improper storage of combustible materials. Additionally, records show that the company's work permit for the site had expired at the time of the accident.

The owner of the company is also notable for previously serving a 16-weekend jail sentence after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide in 2007. He had been charged in the death of one of his workers who had been killed in a trench collapse. Court documents showed that the owner had been aware that the 15-foot deep trench involved in that accident was dangerous, but still allowed the worker inside it. Prosecutors at the time said the contractor's conviction was a sign that authorities were cracking down on employers that failed to protect workers' safety. However, despite pleading guilty to the charges, the demolition company owner was still permitted to work in the construction industry.

Construction accidents

Construction accidents, as this story shows, can be very dangerous and construction workers all too frequently are injured or killed while on the job. While construction work may be inherently more dangerous than many other kinds of employment, contractors have no excuse if they fail to do everything they can to ensure their workers' safety.

Construction accident claims differ substantially from other types of workers' compensation or personal injury claims. As a result, anybody injured in a construction accident should contact a personal injury attorney at Smiley & Smiley, LLP, who is experienced in construction accident claims. With the right legal advice, people recovering from a construction accident injury will have the help and guidance they need when choosing what step to take next.