Pair of NYC construction honchos to lose licenses over worker death

Worker died in June after falling from scaffolding

880 St. Nicholas Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)
880 St. Nicholas Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

The city is suspending the licenses of two construction bosses who it maintains contributed to the death of a worker on a Hamilton Heights job site in June.

The Department of Buildings will suspend the special rigger licenses of Bellet Construction head Wayne Bellet and Zain Contracting’s Mohammad Bhutta, the agency announced on Wednesday. It is also issuing 15 aggravated violations to Bellet and Bhutta and one to the owner of the building, identified as Shamco Management in public records, which add up to fines of $287,500.

Investigators for the DOB have accused Bellet and Bhutta of not getting the proper permits before erecting a roughly 50-foot-high section of pipe scaffolding outside of 880 St. Nicholas Avenue, where workers were doing repair work to the façade. The death occurred when a construction worker, who the Daily News identified as Carlos Olmedo Lala, was installing new façade bricks and repairing existing ones and fell from the second-story of the scaffolding to the ground.

The DOB claims that the scaffolding did not include proper guardrails and planks to support the workers and that the workers had not undergone required scaffold safety training.

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The license suspensions took effect on Tuesday, and a hearing at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings will follow, where DOB will aim to fully revoke the special rigger licenses from Bellet and Bhutta.

Other violations DOB is issuing for the site include ones for a lack of supervision, no design drawings and no records of inspections.

Bhutta could not be reached for comment. Representatives for Bellet and Shamco Management, owned by the Shamah family, did not respond to requests for comment.

There has been a steady stream of construction deaths in New York in recent years, including 18 last year. Three workers were killed on the job in one week in April, and the DOB responded by announcing it would send out more than 90 inspectors to some 5,000 sites to ensure safety compliance.