Contractor fined following worker injury

540 West 53rd Street, Manhattan. Image Credit: Google Maps

General contractor fined $25,000 for its failure to safeguard job site for construction workers. An employee of a sheet metal subcontractor was injured when he fell approximately 16 feet through a gap between the edge of a sidewalk shed and the face of a building located at 540 West 53rd Street in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen. Buildings cited GC Mega Contracting Group for its failure to safeguard “all persons and property” by not closing the gap with wood planks or equivalent material. Buildings produced photographs showing a cloth-like material covering the gap with a hole in it. Mega responded that the sidewalk shed did not have to conform to the requirements of the Building Code because, as photographs showed, the sidewalk underneath the sidewalk shed was closed to the public.

OATH Hearing Officer Clive Morrick sustained the violation, ruling that the sidewalk shed did not conform to the requirements of the Building Code.

Mega filed an administrative appeal.  OATH Appeals Division upheld the $25,000 fine and the hearing officer’s decision sustaining a violation, but on different grounds. The Appeals Division agreed with Mega that the sidewalk shed requirements of the Building Code were to protect pedestrians and did not apply to workers. The Appeals Division found, however, that the material covering the gap created a fall hazard to first responders and inspectors. Photographs showed that Mega failed to install a guardrail system that was required for open sides and ends of scaffold platforms.

The Appeals Division, in affirming the $25,000 fine, also ruled that Mega violated another provision of the Building Code that required contractors to institute and maintain safety measures and provide all equipment or temporary construction necessary to safeguard the public and property affected by such contractor’s operations.

DOB v. Mega Contracting GP LLC, OATH Hearings Division Appeals Unit (August 29, 2019).

By: Paul Sorensen (Paul is a New York Law School student, Class of 2020.)



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