Safety Concerns

/Safety Concerns

Series of Safety Violations, Pedestrian Injury at 50 Hudson Yards

Department of Buildings Violations Note Hazardous Conditions and Missing Safety Manager

An early track-record of unsafe and hazardous conditions during the initial months of construction of 50 Hudson Yards raises concerns about the safety of workers on the site and the possibility that safety incidents could endanger the timely and responsible completion of work.

The Department of Buildings issued a summons to the general contractor at 50 Hudson Yards for its failure to provide adequate guardrails during excavation. Inadequate guardrails exposed workers to a hazardous falling condition of up to 40 feet. The inspection revealed that guardrails were not fully connected, moved when touched, and were not the required height.

The Department of Buildings inspector also found that during excavation there were not adequate means of egress at 50 Hudson Yards.  The inspector described one narrow path as blocked with “an obstacle course” of machinery, equipment and debris.  Furthermore, during the inspection, both the site safety manager and his alternate were not present and were cited for failing to maintain adequate safety logs. In the next inspection, 50 Hudson Yards’ general contractor was again found in violation during the excavation, this time for failing to conform to the NYC Fire Code.

In a separate incident, a truck reportedly backed into a fire hydrant at 50 Hudson Yards. Calls to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection on the afternoon of August 6th, 2018 describe a “fire hydrant in full blast” at 50 Hudson Yards’ 10th Avenue side with “water shooting everywhere” and the site “unable to turn the water off.” According to a witness, water flooded the site and softened the ground in the surrounding area. An inspection later that day by the Water Maintenance Unit found a hydrant with a “broken valve” that was then put out of service.

Hours later, a pedestrian was injured when his leg became stuck in a hole outside 50 Hudson Yards in proximity to where the reported flooding had taken place. According to a witness, the pedestrian’s leg went “straight through” the ground that had been softened due to the fire hydrant incident earlier that day. Work-site safety is paramount to protect all, both on and off the site.  

PHOTO: A pedestrian’s leg lodged in potential sink hole at 50 Hudson Yards.

2018-10-18T16:11:56+00:00 September 5th, 2018|News, Safety Concerns|

Union Strong: Local 79 Laborer Leaves Hostile Workplace Behind

In the ongoing battle against so-called “open shop development” at Hudson Yards and the assault on good middle class jobs — wages and benefits figure greatly. But so, too, do things like dignity, safety and respect.

Before joining Laborer’s Local 79, Tierra Williams worked nonunion for an outfit called Trade Off at One Hudson Yards. While on that job, the 29-year-old Flatbush resident says she experienced repeated episodes of sexual harassment from a leering foreman who liked to follow her to the bathroom. It got so bad, Williams didn’t feel comfortable taking a bathroom break unless a friend accompanied her.

“Not only was I exploited as a worker, but as a woman,” Williams told LaborPress this week. “I experienced a lot of sexism as far as my voice not being heard and my opinions falling on deaf ears.”

When Williams persisted in speaking out, she says a general foreman for Trade Off fired her.

“He said it didn’t come from him, but somebody higher up,” Williams said. “I don’t know who that person is.”

Ultimately, Williams insists developer Stephen Ross has failed to take responsibility for the harassment she, as well as a number of other female workers — experienced on that Trade Off job site.

“Many affidavits have gone in and he’s thrown them in the garbage,” Williams alleges. “He has not responded — not even given a word of comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know him personally, he wasn’t there — but I think his voice would matter more than anyone else’s.”

Today, Williams is working union on a job site at 125 Greenwich Street where she is earning better wages and benefits in a “very different” atmosphere that feels “more stable, more concrete.”

“I get the utmost respect on my job now,” Williams said. “That’s because these guys have so much to live for. Other people that I was working with nonunion — they don’t have anything to look forward to — no 401k plans, nothing.”

The were also woefully untrained, according to Williams.

“Most of them are coming right off the streets — they’ve never been to a class, they’ve never been to school,” Williams said. “They’ve been paying for their OSHA cards. They’ve got OSHA cards coming from all over the place. With 79, you’ve got to get your OSHA card through them, you have to go to their schools, they have to know who you are.”

As a union construction worker, Williams said she has further developed the kind of important interpersonal skills that will serve her well far into her building career.

“You get to meet people, learn how to conduct yourself — they actually give you a life lesson as you’re on the job,” Williams said.

This article was originally posted on LaborPress.

2018-10-18T16:13:20+00:00 August 29th, 2018|Discrimination, News, Safety Concerns|

Lack of FDNY Coverage at Hudson Yards Alarming

Every day, the far west side of Manhattan inches ever taller as skyscrapers rise in the Hudson Yards.

By 2025, 125,000 people a day are expected to live, work or visit the 28-acre development, which will have 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space, including 4,000 apartments, a hotel, and a public school.

The one thing the Hudson Yards won’t have? A firehouse. A huge mistake, says the head of the firefighters union.

“I believe they’re gambling with people’s lives,” said UFA President Gerard Fitzgerald.

The nearest firehouses are Engine 34 on 38th Street between ninth and tenth avenues; Engine 1 on 31st Street between sixth and seventh avenues; and Engine 26 on 37th Street between seventh and eighth avenues.

They may not seem that far away. But the union says they’re often in the middle of traffic jams partly because Penn Station, Times Square and the Lincoln Tunnel are nearby. And they already are very busy.

“The fire companies that are responding right now are stressed to the max. It’s not just the fires and it’s not just fatalities. The New York City Fire Department, the firefighters, respond to medical emergencies also,” Fitzgerald added.

Last year the FDNY clocked more than 1.7 million calls citywide, a record — 82 percent of them medical emergencies.

Engine 1 on 31st Street was the third-busiest engine company. Engines 26 and 34 ranked 54th and 90th out of 198 companies.

But the union says those units will only get busier in the future. The new City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, who represents the area, agrees.

“It’s going to be one of the highest concentrations of folks in the city, and a firehouse should have been initially included. It wasn’t. But now we should fight for a firehouse in Hudson Yards,” Johnson said.

Johnson called on the city at the end of 2016 to study whether a new firehouse is needed. The fire department says that review is ongoing.

The review includes not just the Hudson Yards development but the entire area from 28th to 42nd streets, west of 8th Avenue, which was rezoned more than a decade ago sparking a development boom.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro points out that all of the buildings rising on the far west side will have the latest in fire-safety technology, but he acknowledges the department must play catchup.

“I won’t say it will be engines or ladders or ambulances or some combination, but certainly when it all is said and done/resources will be needed,” Nigro added.

Those resources will help protect a neighborhood that is mainly being built from scratch.

This article was originally posted on NY1.

2018-10-18T16:13:52+00:00 March 26th, 2018|News, Safety Concerns|