OSHA Says Meatpacking District Fatality Was Avoidable

Harco Construction and Sky Materials Corp. were cited for willful safety violations. Proposed fines totaled $280,000.

OSHA has concluded that the death of a worker in the Meatpacking District of New York City could have been avoided, and because of that, the agency has cited two companies for willful safety violations. Carlos Moncayo was killed after a trench he was working in collapsed, leaving him buried beneath the soil and debris.

An OSHA investigation found that Harco Construction and Sky Materials Corp. did not provide cave-in protection for the trench or support or brace a section of undermined and unsupported sidewalk to prevent it from collapsing into the trench. OSHA issued each employer two citations for willful violations.

"Carlos Moncayo was a person, not a statistic. His death was completely avoidable. Had the trench been guarded properly against collapse, he would not have died in the cave-in," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director in Manhattan. "Managers from Harco and Sky Materials were aware of these deadly hazards and did not remove employees from the trench, even after warnings from project safety officials. This unconscionable behavior needlessly and shamefully cost a man his life."

Proposed fines total $280,000 – $140,000 for each company – which is the maximum allowable under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. "Eighteen New York City construction workers have died on the job this year. That is an unacceptable toll," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Construction work hazards are well-known, and so are safeguards to prevent deaths and injuries. Employers must provide a workplace that allows employees to return home safely at the end of each workday."

OSHA worked with the New York City Department of Investigations, the New York City Department of Buildings, the New York Police Department, and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office on the investigation. Officials from both companies were indicted for manslaughter and other charges in the New York State Supreme Court in August 2015.

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