Monday, April 16, 2012

Construction Worker Seriously Injured at Second Avenue Subway Site

A construction worker was seriously injured when a slab of concrete or roadway fell on him at a Second Avenue Subway construction site on the Upper East Side Monday afternoon. The accident comes on the heels of a fatal crane collapse at the MTA's No. 7 extension construction site on 34th Street on April 3.

Last month, the federal Occupational Health & Safety Administration issued $8,500 in fines for "serious" violations to another contractor — a joint venture of Schiavone, Shea and Kiewit — for a worker's respirator not being properly fitted for exposure to dangerous levels of silica.

OSHA officials returned to the site on Monday, to begin an investigation into the cause of the most recent accident

The worker in Monday's incident — an employee of mega-construction firm Skanska — was in a utility trench on East 86th Street and Second Avenue just after 12:45 p.m. when he was "hit by a piece of roadway pavement or concrete when it was being moved by equipment," an MTA spokesman said.

He was rushed to New York Hospital with back and leg injuries in serious but stable condition, and it appears he may have suffered multiple broken bones, FDNY officials said.

Emergency workers freed the victim, who was pinned for up to 20 minutes. "He was screaming, 'Help, help!,'" said one bystander. ''They took the concrete from off his legs and started putting water on his head. His face looked red.''

A worker from the Food Emporium nearby heard the worker's screams for help. "I never heard anything that loud. They told me that he broke his back," she said. "They responded real quick and talked to him, trying to keep him calm.''

A spokeswoman from Skanksa said the worker's injuries were "not life-threatening."

"We don’t know the specific extent of his injuries as of yet, but he is receiving treatment and we should know more soon," she said. "We’re thankful to New York City’s first responders and the workers on site for their quick action."

The site is a major construction zone for the Second Avenue Subway, where the East 86th Street station is being built. Blasting began this month for this part of the $4.45 billion first phase of the project, which will extend the Q line from East 63rd up to East 96th street, is expected to be completed by December 2016.

Residents have been unhappy with the construction's impacts on the Upper East Side. "It's too noisy, and it's taking too long," said Erwin Baker, 79, who lives on 87th Street and Second Avenue. ''We're trying to sell our apartment, but people are afraid to buy it because of the air quality.''

The MTA conducted an independent study, which found the air quality was safe.