Department of Buildings stapled a stop work order to the front of the work site in Times Square. (Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News)
BY Molly Crane-newman
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 7:20 PM
A city hardhat plummeted 18 feet to his death Wednesday in what city officials called a “completely preventable” construction accident in Times Square.
Jose Cruz, 59, of Sunset Park, was helping remove part of a steel deck from a slab at 1604 Broadway, near W. 49th St., at about 11:05 a.m., when he fell from an I-beam near the second floor, officials said.
He died at Mount Sinai West.
“We think it was completely preventable,” said city Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler.
“There should have been tie offs with his personal protection equipment, which he was wearing.”
Cruz may have been assessing whether he could lower the slab to the ground, Chandler said.
DOB stapled a stop work order to the front of 1604 Broadway as Chandler spoke to reporters.
“What we saw is a construction site that could’ve been in a lot safer condition ... We shut the job down, and it's going to be shut down for some time. We have to get the message out to these contractors that this building is not worth anybody's life,” said the commissioner.
“I gotta say, it's rather upsetting to see the kind of chances that these contractors are taking — they're putting their workers at risk, and it's just not acceptable,” Chandler added.
The Buildings Department will be amping up safety inspections around the city, he said — and it’s investigating whether the 1604 Broadway site had a construction superintendent
“It's a tragedy, and we're very, very upset by it,” Chandler said, of Cruz’s death.
A neighbor in Cruz’s Sunset Park neighborhood said he was originally from the Dominican Republic.
“He's a good guy man," said Peter Medina, 50, who lived in the same building as Cruz. "It's sad to hear, he's a good guy and he works every day, hard.”
Medina said the 59-year-old kept to himself and lived alone, but was friendly and liked to have fun when he wasn’t working.
The 59-year-old victim fell 18 feet from an I-beam at Broadway near W. 49th St. (Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News)
Arthur Farrell, 69, who lives in the same boarding house as Cruz, said he’d been hurt on a construction site once before.
“He was working a job and ... they lifted something with a crane and he was pushing it and hurt himself. He's a good guy, he's nice. He's always good,” said Farrell.
Sources identified the general contractor at the Times Square site as Streamline USA LLC, which is listed on several city permits issued for the 1604 Broadway.
Streamline USA’s website says it “offers premiere custom contract and construction management services and caters to high-end residential and commercial clients.”
Phone calls to its office and the cell phone of a principal owner were not returned.
Gary LaBarbera, president of the 100,000 member Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, denounced Cruz’s death as an unnecessary tragedy and stressed the need for better training among the workforce.
“Once again we mourn the death of a fellow construction worker, which underscores the need for critically important safety legislation,” the union leader said.
“Construction is a dangerous industry and the unionized sites are not immune to fatalities. Just a few weeks ago we lost one of our own ... (but) the vast majority of construction fatalities are avoidable tragedies similar to today's incident — an improperly trained, exploited worker on a nonunion job site,” LaBarbera said, as he urged the City Council to pass legislation mandating stricter safety training.
In March 2016, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) hit Streamline USA with seven violations dubbed "serious" after its inspectors responded to a complaint about unsafe job conditions at the 1604 Broadway site. The agency hit the company with $19,200 in fines which Streamline is contesting.
In September OSHA cited the company for two violations related to inadequate scaffolding protection at another New York City job site, 58 Ninth Ave., the address of the iconic Homestead Steakhouse. They hit the firm with $17,746 in fines following a planned inspection and payment is listed as "pending."
The owner of the Cash & Carry Deli across the street from Cruz's Sunset Park home said safety on the job was always important to Cruz.
“The first thing he would do when he started a job is to make sure he had a harness, that’s what he would tell us,” said the businessman, who asked not to be named. "I know him 15, 20 years. He's got a daughter and a young kid. He was a hard working guy. He was a welder. He was here since he was young ... He was a good guy,” the deli owner said.
STREAMLINE USA’S STORY
Streamline USA, LLC is a New York City-based General Contractor and Construction Management Company founded by three partners who have known each other for many years and finally decided to work together as a team. Eric Ortense, Liam Treanor, and Orin Zelenak collectively possess over fifty years of diverse construction experience and this enables them to engage in commercial, hospitality, and high-end residential projects.
This team came together with a vision that each member would bring his own unique talents and problem-solving abilities to bear. By combining a passion for construction and the synergy of a partnership, Streamline has continued to grow stronger while remaining agile and dynamic.
We combined our diverse experiences to define our company values and to benefit both our clients and our team.
RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION SERVICES
A key component is our company culture. The partners decided that, from its inception, Streamline would work in both the residential and commercial markets. Although there are different divisions within Streamline to address these two markets, the internal cross talk between our two main teams is intense and fertile. Those on the residential side bring the experience of precision, high tolerances, and restraint to these discussions. Those on the commercial side interject an exciting drive and push to execute quickly, no matter that the shifts are 24 hours long and run all weekend, so they can wrap up and move on. The result is an ongoing conversation and evolving approach to construction which takes the best from both worlds and applies it to every new project.