Holding an employer accountable for a workplace death does not happen nearly enough. Often, those in charge are directly responsible for making dangerous decisions that end up costing workers their lives. Instead of facing consequences, however, executives usually get off scot free. While the company may have to pay a fine, those fines are relatively small, and they're typically paid by the business and not by the individuals who made the dangerous and unfortunate decisions that cost workers their lives. Workers' compensation death benefits, which go to the dependents of the deceased worker, are also paid by insurers and not by the company or individuals responsible for causing harm.
Recently, however, one construction boss was actually charged with a crime in connection with the death of an employee. Though it remains to be seen if he will be convicted of any offenses or sentenced to jail time for his part in causing the loss of life, at least he will have to answer in court for his decisions which allegedly led to the employee's death.
Construction Boss To Face Charges in Workers Death
The New York Post reported on the unusual case in which an employer is actually facing prosecution for his alleged role in a workplace fatality. The employer who is being charged is a 66-year-old construction company owner. He has been charged with the crime of manslaughter, among other charges. The case arose in connection with the death of a construction worker who was killed on a site in Coney Island.
The man who died was working on the sixth floor of a commercial building when he fell off the edge of the structure. The victim was a 50-year-old undocumented immigrant working to send money to his wife and children back home in Mexico. His death could likely have been prevented if proper safety precautions had been followed.
Building codes require that those who are working at high elevations wear harnesses. The codes also state that elevated worksites must have a protective fence. The construction site where the man was pouring concrete had neither.
The owner of the construction company he worked for had been cited in the past, including receiving four notices for violations that occurred between September of 2011 and August of 2014. He had been ordered to provide handrail and guardrail systems to protect workers from falls. Although he did install some guardrails, they were three feet from the building's edge so workers who had to pour concrete were forced to step over them and stand on the edge of buildings without a harness in order to do their jobs.
The construction boss pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in connection with the death. The case will go before the court and could result in a conviction if the jury determines his actions were responsible for the worker's death.