Construction worker’s death at Times Square site was “completely preventable,” DOB commissioner says

Jose Cruz, a 59-year-old hard hat, fell 18 feet at nonunion work site 1604 Broadway

1604-1610 Broadway
1604-1610 Broadway

A construction worker died Wednesday after plunging 18 feet from a job site at 1604 Broadway in Times Square, which will soon be the home of a Grand Ole Opry-themed restaurant and entertainment venue.

Officials said Jose Cruz fell from an I-beam while removing part of a steel deck from a slab at the site, the New York Daily News reported. The 59-year-old died later in hospital.

Rick Chandler, the city Buildings Commissioner, told the newspaper the death was “completely preventable” and that “there should have been tie offs with his personal protection equipment, which he was wearing.”

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The general contractor at the nonunion construction site was Streamline USA LLC, sources told the newspaper. The company, led by Eric Ortense, Liam Treanor, and Orin Zelenak, is named on city permits issued for 1604 Broadway. Last year, the U.S. Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued the company with seven violations, following complaints about unsafe work conditions at 1604 Broadway. Streamline USA was given $19,200 in fines, which the company is contesting, according to the newspaper.

Ryman Hospital Group, the parent company of the Nashville country music institution, signed a lease last year for 27,000 square feet at the five-story retail building. Ryman announced late last year that the site was expected to open in April 2017.

The Department of Buildings put a stop work order on the property, which is controlled by Atlas Capital Group through a ground lease. Chandler said the operation will be shut down for “some time,” and that the DOB will investigate whether the site had a safety superintendent. He also said the department will also be stepping up safety inspections around the city.

A bill requiring onsite construction workers to undergo mandatory safety training is now expected to pass City Council. The updated version of the bill, which is aimed at reducing fatalities in the industry, will reportedly not force workers to attend state-approved apprenticeship programs. Unions and nonunions have sparred over proposed new safety regulations. [NYDN]Miriam Hall