Construction worker dies after fall

September 4, 2008 3:29:03 PM PDT
A crane worker was killed during the dismantling of a large crane at a West Side construction site Thursday, according to police. The worker, identified as Anthony Esposito, was reportedly on a movable walkway on the crane's platform at 600 West 42nd Street when he suddenly fell just after 9 a.m.

Authorities say he fell about 500 feet and landed at the base of the large crane. Police taped off a large section of the construction site surrounding his body and the crane.

Investigators believe Esposito either lost his footing on the walkway, which was hovering 48 stories in the air, or the moveable walkway became unstable. A city official said Esposito was readying the crane for a "jump" at the time of his fall. Specifically, the official said, he was removing bolts from the crane.

City officials say Esposito was wearing a harness at the time of the fall, but that it was not attached.

At least two other workers were reportedly on the crane at the time of the collapse, but they were not injured.

The crane did not collapse and is structurally sound, according to the officials. However, they say the moveable walkway may be unstable and was dismantled.

The Buildings Department was responding to the scene to investigate. The building is reportedly the site of numerous complaints, according to public records.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 18 complaints and 22 violations at the site. Many of the complaints involve falling objects and unsafe work conditions.

Examples of the complaints, made by the public, include workers climbing up the crane without a harness, improper netting and falling debris. On May 6, a 17-year-old passerby was hit when a chip of concrete fell from the building.

The general contractor at the site is Gotham Construction, and the concrete subcontractor is DiFama Concrete. Gotham was issued four violations in this incident, for a missing permit, a missing guardrail on the roof and excessive debris at two locations. All work at the site has been stopped until further notice.

Gotham Construction issued the following statement:

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and all our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Anthony Esposito, who was an employee of subcontractor, DFC Structures Inc. Everyone involved is cooperating fully with all relevant government agencies as we all seek to determine the exact cause of the accident."

In January, a DiFama worker died when he fell 42 stories from the top of Trump SoHo. And in November 2004, another DiFama employee died in a 60 foot fall from a construction crane at the Lumiere, a seven-story condominium on 53rd Street.

The death was the latest in a series of accidents involving cranes that have prompted numerous calls for reform.

Within the last seven months, two construction cranes collapsed in Manhattan, killing nine people. Since then, the city's buildings commissioner was ousted and replaced, and numerous safety reforms were passed into law

The worker fell from "Silver Towers at River Place," one of two 60-story residential towers connected by a six-story base at 600 West 42nd Street. It is the companion to I River Place, a 40-story, 921-unit tower which opened in 2000.

The $917.6 million complex is being built by developer Larry Silverstein.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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