Falling Plank from Scaffold Kills NYC Construction Worker

A 32-year-old construction worker died from severe neck and back injuries Thursday, April 21, when a plank fell from a scaffold that a work crew was dismantling. The accident occurred at the site of the Printing House luxury condominium development, at 421 Hudson Street, in Greenwich Village. The worker, Luis Mata, a Mexican-born Port Chester resident, was taken to Lenox Hill HealthPlex where he was pronounced dead. Mata had been living with his uncle and sending money back to his mother in Mexico, for whom he was the sole support.

The accident follows a familiar pattern in New York City:

  • An immigrant worker
  • An unsafe construction site, cited for several violations
  • A tragic death

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Buildings, violations had been issued to the project in the past, including a stop-work order for the site’s scaffolding. Only the day before Mata’s death, a complaint was filed alleging the building had “no permit in place for roofing, asbestos, exterior repairs and scaffolding.” Another citation for “failure to safeguard all persons and property during construction” and a stop-work order were issued following Mata’s death.

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) has expressed concerns over the higher rate of fatalities among Latino construction workers. Studies show that Latino workers are more likely to work for nonunion companies who are severe violators of safety standards. Latino workers, especially recent immigrants, are likely to have had less safety training, to have English comprehension difficulty, and are less likely to complain about safety conditions for fear of losing their job.

Construction workers should realize that New York City has some of the strongest legal protections in the country related to workers’ safety. When construction companies violate safety standards and injuries result, workers can sue for compensation. When, as in this case, a tragic wrongful death occurs, the victim’s next of kin can sue.

Barasch & McGarry represents injured construction workers throughout the greater New York area. If you or a worker you love has suffered a serious injury, call 855.539.9189 or contact our firm online to schedule a free consultation.

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