New York City Suspends Contractor in Astoria Building Collapse That Trapped Workers
By Jeanmarie Evelly | June 28, 2017 6:12pm
A construction worker is carried out on a stretcher after being trapped under thousands of pounds of debris for nearly two hours on Tuesday, fire officials said.
ASTORIA, NYC — The city has suspended the contractor and superintendent in charge of a work site where a construction collapse last week trapped and seriously injured three workers, officials announced Wednesday.
Ideal Builders and Construction and its superintendent Fazal Hassan were suspended following the June 20 incident at 31-25 28th Road, where the Department of Buildings accused the company of "cutting corners" while building a third-story addition on an existing home.
Officials say Hassan allowed crews to "improperly" load cinder blocks and other heavy equipment onto the newly built third floor, which wasn't stable enough to support the weight.
The floor collapsed, sending the materials crashing through the building's second and first floors, trapping and critically injuring three construction workers, including one man who was pinned under the debris for nearly two hours.
Officials say Hassan — the construction superintendent at the site, as well as at 10 other projects in the city — should have first had an engineer assess the third floor to make sure it was structurally sound.
The DOB is in the process of shutting down work at more than 60 construction sites that Hassan is associated with, according to a spokesman.
While this was the first injury reported at one of Hassan's sites, he and Ideal Builders and Construction have racked up 14 public-safety-related violations over the last two years, officials said.
"Mr. Hassan and his firm neglected their duties on this and other construction sites and showed disregard for the lives of workers and the public," DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler said in a statement.
"Bad actors in the construction industry need to get the message: the City will not tolerate those who endanger people’s lives."
Calls to Ideal Builders and Construction went unanswered Wednesday, and the company's phone number did not have a voicemail activated.
The length of his suspension will be determined by a hearing with the city's Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), the spokesman said.
QUEENS, NYC — Three construction workers were seriously injured — with one trapped for nearly two hours — as thousands of pounds of construction material fell from the roof of a building and crashed through an Astoria home Tuesday afternoon, the FDNY said.
Construction materials, including laminated beams and bags of cement, were lifted by a boom crane to the roof of the two-story building at 31-25 28th Road, according to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
But they were too heavy for the roof, collapsing it and trapping three men working inside, he said.
Fire officials were called to the house at around 3:41 p.m. and found that a 37-year-old construction worker had removed himself from the building soon after the collapse.
A 40-year-old worker was briefly trapped but was removed early in the rescue operation, Nigro said.
But a 28-year-old worker remained trapped under thousands of pounds of construction material for nearly two hours as firefighters, rescue medics and the NYPD's Emergency Services Unit tried to get him out.
Rescuers crawled through the collapsed home to stabilize the trapped worker as other firefighters began digging a trench to get him out, Nigro said
His legs were trapped under the thousands of pounds of materials, and he was kept conscious throughout his removal.
"Rescue medics that work here are able to do things that no one else can do," the fire commissioner said.
"They crawled in there, they administered IV drugs for a crushing injury and pain relief, and kept this person stable as our members dug out these few thousand pounds of material to get this gentleman out."
The worker was finally removed just after 5:30 p.m. and taken to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition, according to the FDNY.
The other two workers were taken earlier to Elmhurst Hospital and also listed in critical condition.
The NYPD was using search-and-rescue dogs to conduct a secondary search for more victims, although it's believed everyone was out of the site, an official said.
Timothy Hogan, the Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement for the Department of Buildings, said the owners of the home had proper permits to build a third-story addition. But construction materials are supposed to be delivered to the ground level, not the roof, he said.
"If materials are delivered to an upper level, it's supposed to have been reviewed by an engineer to make sure the structure they are putting the materials on can handle the weight," he said.
They are currently investigating if the home's owners had this approval.
The owners could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Neighbor Irene Sanitate, 67, said crews have been working on the home for about two months and were loudly drilling against her wall Tuesday morning.
A few hours later she heard the material fall.
"We were upstairs. It was a big, really loud noise," said Sanitate, who has lived on the block since 1970. "And then a lot of dust."
The neighbor added that she was worried about construction material being placed on the roof.
"The house is old, and when I saw all that material on the roof from day one, I said it's too much weight," Sanitate said. "That was my concern. A lot of cinderblock."