Breaking details on the death of a construction worker in Midtown.
Updated 40 mins ago
MIDTOWN (WABC) --
A construction worker fell to his death while working at a Midtown Manhattan condominium building.
A 52-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. He apparently fell from the 47th story of 135 West 52nd Street located between 6th and 7th avenues.
It happened around 3 p.m. He landed in an interior alleyway. The man's identity has not yet been released.
There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.
De Blasio brushes off incomplete count of construction deaths
The mayor stood by the Department of Buildings' statistics after Crain's reported they missed a third of fatalities
By Rosa Goldensohn and Joe Anuta
Photo: Asssociated Press
Mayor Bill de Blasio defends the city's construction-related death count.
Mayor Bill de Blasio stood behind his administration's method of counting construction deaths Tuesday, although the city's figure did not account for more than a third of last year's fatalities.
The Department of Buildings counted only 11 of the 17 construction-related workplace fatalities that took place in 2015, Crain's reported Monday.
"I think the issue at hand has to do with some jurisdictional differences, DOB versus OSHA and differences of reporting," the mayor said at an unrelated press conference, referring to the Department of Buildings and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "That’s normal division of labor between the city government and state or federal government," he later added.
OSHA issued serious violations in all six cases that the city said fell outside of its jurisdiction. The Department of Buildings does not consider issues of workplace safety to be in its purview, limiting its tracking to deaths that involve a violation of the city's construction code.
A de Blasio spokesman confirmed that the mayor's comments meant that the administration would not be looking into the discrepancy.
"Regardless of where the total count of tragic incidents is kept, two levels of government are doing a great deal to keep workers and the public safe on job sites," the spokesman wrote in an email. "Those protocols wouldn’t change if we changed where the toll is kept."
"This is ultimately an accounting distinction, not a regulatory gap or policy problem," he added.
But the Buildings Department and OSHA are not on equal footing to prevent city construction deaths. DOB is more influential in the city, employs hundreds of building inspectors, and can quickly make changes to construction rules that have a real effect on businesses. OSHA, on the other hand, has 80 inspectors for the entire state and depends on Congress to enact any meaningful change to its statutes.
Moreover, the construction safety reforms the mayor has touted fall under DOB's enforcement regime, ignoring the workplace safety issues that led to a third of last year's deaths.
Dr. Peter Muennig, the director of the Global Research Analytics for Population Health program at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, said the city should "absolutely" be counting and investigating every death.
"They're relevant because that is how you decide how to set your standards," he said. "If you have a lot of people dying for some preventable reason, that's a policy problem."
"There are basically two possibilities" to explain the deflated statistics, Muennig said. "In the best case scenario, this is just terrible policy making, to be setting your regulations arbitrarily and not based upon data."
But the extra safety provisions come at a cost to the city, to homeowners and to real estate developers, and can provide an incentive for the city to keep the numbers low, said Muennig.
"Another possibility is they're being duplicitous and they want more affordable housing built and they're deliberately not doing it," he said.
In the very end, what is few construction workers (most of them immigrants) dead? Pretty much nothing to this world of money and greed.