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Last month, the district attorney for Manhattan met with representatives of multiple New York City agencies and announced the filing of criminal charges related to a June mini-crane accident that seriously injured two construction workers.

Two supervisors employed by Western Waterproofing Co. (dba Western Specialty Contractors) - out-of-state subcontractors based in St. Louis - were both charged with two counts of reckless endangerment (misdemeanors) and two counts of felony assault.

The prosecution alleges that Western was hired by construction manager ZDG LLC to erect a facade on an 11-story building. The facade had a curtain wall composed of glazed window panels and stainless steel. Prosecutors claim that one of the supervisors ordered a mini-crane to be sent to the construction site in Harlem. The other supervisor directed workers to use it without providing them with proper training. There also was no engineering plan specifying tethering and crane usage -- a procedure that requires approval by the New York City Department of Buildings.

Two ironworkers on the floor beneath the crane were guiding panels for the curtain wall into place while the crane hoisted the materials. The untethered crane plunged to the ground four stories below, causing one of the workers to plummet three stories and striking the other in his back.

The density of New York City makes every job site a very dangerous place for construction workers - as well as anyone passing by a site on the streets. When those in charge of production and safety cut corners, they put everyone in proximity to the construction project at risk of injury or death.

Criminal charges are not always forthcoming from these accident investigations. However, lack of criminal charges does not preclude the pursuit of civil justice through third-party claims and other avenues to recovery.

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Keogh Crispi

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