First sad day of new year for NYC construction workers

One dead and 3 injured at Trump SoHo Hotel
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Construction is a difficult task in the high rises of New York City on a normal day, add some rain onto the wooden forms for the concrete and it's even worse. While we do what we can to be safe, unfortunately accident's happen. Today was one of those days. Those days where one of those brothers I meet on a daily basis, those guys and girls that take the ideas from the blueprints and build the impossible, will never make it home.

With the stories I have been sifting through I found out that(1)his name was Yuri, he was a married dad originally from the Ukraine. (2)His job was to tamp down the freshly poured concrete, a method to remove the air before it sets. Concrete workers usually have to move at a fast pace when pouring, once it exits the mixer it starts to dry. They work at great heights that are exposed to the elements and with material of great weight being moved continuously overhead. Yes the guys working at the top of the buildings have a dangerous job under the best of conditions. Yuri did what the job asked to put food on his families table, but no one could have expected what happened next.

It could have been worse, a lot worse, Three of the approximately 30 workers in the area were injured when(3)a 20'x20' section of wooden forming holding steel rebar, the reinforcing material , and the concrete being poured gave way dropping 2 floors and sending debris, including a steel beam, tumbling down to the street level. Yuri was thrown out past the safety netting and dropped 42 stories and unfortunately, was pronounced dead at the scene.(1)One worker named Francesco, who was lucky enough to fall into the safety netting, was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital in serious, but not life threatening condition. A foreman known as Danny and an unknown man, had minor injuries.

The community bitches, the Dept. of Buildings hands out fines, maybe one of the (4)underfunded and understaffed NY State OSHA inspectors will come bye and show a face, the planned 45-story Trump SoHo Hotel will probably still open in 2009, but the fact remains, construction is dangerous, and with the (5)"good contractors" competing with the nonunion sweatshop contractors, the stage is set for it to get worse.

My heart goes out to Yuri's family who is now left without a dad. What a sad day indeed.

(4)Unregulated work in the global city, 07- NYU/Brennan Center For justice
Workplace Health and Safety Enforcement: Our respondents were also pessimistic about health
and safety enforcement: “OSHA only shows up when the building falls down,” offered a union
safety expert. While fewer data are available on the efficacy of the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (the main agency responsible for enforcement), a similar story emerges.
Adequate staffing is clearly an issue: last year, there were 128 health and safety inspectors in
New York State, and by one estimate, it would take 98 years for OSHA to inspect each workplace
in the state once.44 But lack of political and administrative will is also evident. OSHA’s
budget has been cut by $14.5 million since 2001, and at the same time, the agency has shifted
resources away from enforcement and deterrence toward “compliance assistance.”45 Penalties
for employers who violate health and safety regulations are generally regarded as weak, and
criminal sanctions are rarely pursued, even in cases where violations caused workers’ deaths.46
(5)Building Up New York, Tearing Down Job Quality: Taxpayer Impact of Worsening Employment Practices in the New York City Construction Industry., 07 Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI)
Workers, taxpayers and honest employers pay the price - $489 million in 2005 and are likely to reach $557 million in 2008 - as construction employment practices deteriorate in New York City. FPI's new report looks at the 50,000 construction workers (one in four) employed off the books or as so-called independent contractors - at substantial cost to themselves and to taxpayers in general.

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