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Calls for better construction safety come too late for 2 men

"This is an epidemic that must end now." That declaration comes from a leader in New York's construction trades after two workers plunged to their deaths at separate sites in Manhattan in recent days.

In one case, fire officials say a 36-year-old father of five fell 29 stories to the ground. They say he was part of a crew working to free a crane from the side of the high-rise structure. A relative of the man says he was wearing a safety harness but it wasn't attached to anything at the time.

In the second incident, two 45-year-old men tumbled out of a bucket lift from a height of about 36 feet. One of them died at the scene. The other reportedly suffered a serious head injury.

What is notable about these tragedies is that they are not unique. Another man died at the second building site back in June. He fell from the 16th floor. City officials note they stopped work at the site at the time and only allowed it to resume after receiving a safety enhancement plan from the builder.

Officials say the site of the first death had received nine code violation citations since January. In fact, it was under a partial stop-work order at the time of the recent death of unsafe and improper crane operations.

It is in the wake of the deaths and injuries that leaders of several building and contractor groups said comprehensive safety training is needed for workers across the city.

Those with experience advocating for injured construction workers know that proper training is essential. However, site managers and supervisors also have an obligation to look out for their workers. And if someone is hurt in an accident due to a failure to meet that duty of care, the victim should seek to learn his or her legal options.

Source: Daily News, "Two construction workers plunge to their deaths at separate Manhattan job sites with unresolved violations," by Edgar Sandoval, Greg B. Smith, Graham Rayman, Sept. 21, 2017

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