Construction Contractors Face Penalties Over Worker Death

Two construction contractors have lost their licenses after a city hearing and now face a fine of $50,000 for a construction accident that left a worker dead. According to a report on, the companies’ special rigger licenses were suspended in September 2019 after the New York City Department of Buildings charged that they failed to get proper permits for a 50-foot-high section of pipe scaffolding outside the building where workers were repairing the facade.

The DOB also found that the scaffolding did not have crucial safety features such as proper guardrails and adequate planks to support the workers, and that the workers did not receive the required scaffold-safety training.

Tragic Worker Death

The incident in question, which occurred on June 22, 2019, killed a 44-year-old construction worker who fell from a second-story scaffolding at 880 St. Nicholas Avenue in Sugar Hill, Harlem. According to DOB officials, the two construction companies had installed that scaffolding illegally. In September 2019, the DOB suspended the licenses of the companies alleging they had negligently (carelessly) installed the scaffolding and issuing them 15 aggravated violations carrying fines of $287,500.

The worker who died had been repairing the building’s brick facade before he fell from the scaffolding. DOB officials said contractors never got permits to install the scaffolding. In addition to the scaffolding violations, others included lack of supervision, missing design drawings on-site and scaffold installation records, officials said.

NYC Construction Accident Deaths

As of November, there were seven construction fatalities in New York City for the year, according to data from the DOB, which is a 36% decline from the same period last year when 11 deaths were recorded. The majority of the deaths in 2020 occurred in Brooklyn while Manhattan reported the most in 2019.

Nearly 30% of construction accident deaths in 2020 were due to a worker falling, the data show. No deaths were reported March through May when all nonessential construction work was shut down statewide. The construction industry did not fully reopen until early June – when one construction accident fatality was reported that month.

Protection by NY Labor Laws

Workers in New York are protected by New York’s Scaffolding Law (Section 240 of the New York Labor Code), which requires contractors, owners and their agents to be responsible for providing necessary equipment such as scaffolds, ladders, hoists, stays, irons, ropes, blocks braces and other devices to keep workers safe from fall-related accidents. Under this section of the labor code, workers injured in scaffolding accidents have the ability to bring civil actions against the general contractor and property owner/manager, etc. responsible for the safety of the jobsite.

Workers who have been injured in a scaffolding accident can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. In addition, they may be able to file a third-party claim for substantial money damages and thus have two sources of compensation. Such claims are filed against parties other than the employers or co-workers and may include, but are not limited to, general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, etc. In cases where a worker dies from injuries suffered on the job, surviving family members may seek death benefits through workers’ compensation and/or file a wrongful death claim against a third party that is liable for the fatal incident.

A large number of construction workers such as ironworkers, steelworkers, carpenters, masons, laborers or electricians work from an elevation or height by using scaffolds, platforms, ladders etc. When scaffolds are built without proper planning and care, they may not only put workers, but also bystanders and pedestrians at a significant risk of injury. Some of the most common causes of scaffolding collapses include poor construction, scaffolds built with substandard parts, overloaded platforms, lack of proper inspection and maintenance and noncompliance of scaffolding safety standards.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If you have suffered injuries in a construction-related accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.

Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job – one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year. Our law firm also recovered $3,000,000 for a man who fell and suffered two broken legs when he walked into an open elevator shaft. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:

1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES

Please visit us at:


Leave a Reply