The Real Deal New York

Construction worker critical after Flatiron fall

Unidentified man impaled himself on steel rebar at Atkins & Breskin condo conversion of former Ring building

January 27, 2016 02:55PM

34 West 17th Street in the Flatiron District and DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler

34 West 17th Street in the Flatiron District and DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler

UPDATED, Jan. 27, 7:10 p.m.: A construction worker is in critical condition after he fell five stories from a condo conversion in the Flatiron District Wednesday morning and was impaled on the steel rebar below.

The unidentified victim fell down a shaft at 34 West 17th Street, a former Ring Portfolio building that Lower East Side-based developer Atkins & Breskin bought early last year from Extell Development.

The worker, who was employed by the New Empire Builder Corp., fell around 8:25 a.m. and was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was listed in critical condition, the New York Daily News reported.

Construction accidents have occurred at a worrisome rate in recent years as the city experiences a construction boom.

There were 314 recorded accidents in the fiscal year ending last July, a 52-percent increase over the previous four years’ average. During that one-year period, 10 people were killed in construction-related accidents, up from the average of 5.5 over the previous four years.

Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said the man fell from a ladder as he was installing sheetrock overhead on a ceiling frame.

A preliminary DOB investigation found that the work wasn’t properly equipped with safety gear when he fell. A source told the News that gear could have included a harness or covering over the shaftway.

An elevator technician at the site said he saw the man impaled by the steel rebars used to shore up concrete, which pierced his abdomen, back, thigh, buttock and groin.

“He fell from the fourth floor into the basement where there’s rebar and rubble,” James Apolito, 31, told the newspaper. “He wasn’t even touching the ground. The rebar was holding him a foot off the ground.”

“He was conscious, moaning mostly,” he added. “It was shocking. It’s very clear, very fresh in my mind. It’s not something I’m going to forget.”

Apolito said the rebar didn’t have caps on the end that could have prevented such an accident.

While the building had the proper construction permits in place, the DOB in August slapped Atkins & Breskin with a $1,000 fine for unsafe elevator or hosting equipment and another $1,500 fine for failing to rectify the situation, according to the Daily News.

The developer bought the building early last year for $20 million.

The construction company, New Empire Builder, was fined nearly $20,000 by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration for six serious violations a year ago, one of which included failing to provide fall protection on a site. [NYDN] – Rich Bockmann