• Construction Crime

    Author : White Collar Firm December 25, 2018

    When discussing the construction industry of Manhattan, it is easy to also mention the various scandals that have plagued it for years – embezzlement, employee wage theft, and overall corruption between developers and city officials are among the worst behaviors. But increasingly, violent, physical crime has been occurring with more regularity than it had in the past. This is in large part due to mismanagement of the workforce and untrained laborers causing serious injury or death to their colleagues.

    The Manhattan DA recently announced criminal charges against two individuals in their role for an incident that occurred at a luxury residential construction site in Harlem. A mini crane fell several stories and ended up seriously injuring two ironworkers. Terrence Edwards, aged 39 and Timothy Braico, aged 41, have each been charged with assault in the Second Degree. The employer, Western Waterproofing Company, Inc. cooperated in the criminal investigation. They eventually entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, whereby they agreed to keep an independent monitor, improve safety training for its workers, and use both English and Spanish announcement to educate workers about their right to a safe workplace.

    The incident occurred when a mini crane was ordered by Braico to the Harlem worksite, in spite of the workers never having been trained to use it, and the lack of a DOB-approved engineer’s plans to ensure it could be used safely. Edwards, the site’s superintendent, then directed an ironworker to operate the crane. The operator, untrained, did not understand the crane’s load capacity, nor did he tether the mini crane, in direct violation of various regulations. The operator was lifting glass panels up between various floors, above two ironworkers who had been working on the floor below the crane. As the crane was lifting a heavy panel, it fell forward, pulling the crane's boom into the floor below. At that point, it knocked into an ironworker, broke his harness, and threw him to the ground. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, impairing his ability to speak and walk. His colleague on the same floor suffered a broken spine, also impairing his ability to walk.

    In an announcement various commissioners of Manhattan decried the behavior of the supervisors, characterizing it as an ‘appalling safety lapse.' The issue here is that the prosecutor believes the supervisors knowingly skirted regulations in order to speed up the project and cut costs, which resulted in these life-altering injuries to two of their workers. The DA reiterated that anyone who fails to follow regulations regarding construction and building sites which results in a death or injury to a worker will be criminally prosecuted. Therefore, in addition to the various regulations concerning construction bids, employee wages and fair labor, construction bosses and developers must be keenly aware of the regulations around the use of construction materials and tools. Contractors have a duty to ensure its own sub-contractors and workers there are aware of their obligations under the law. Otherwise, they risk a criminal conviction.

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