Volume 21, Number 37 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 23 - 29, 2009

Deutsche worker breaks his leg

By Julie Shapiro

A worker at the Deutsche Bank building suffered a broken leg last Thurs., Jan. 15 when an excavator hit him.

It was the first serious injury at the contaminated tower since subcontractor LVI Environmental Services joined the job a year ago. The injured LVI worker was in the B level basement removing debris when another worker driving an excavator accidentally struck him. The 130 Liberty St. tower, now 26 stories, is currently being cleaned so demolition can resume.

The building has been seemingly plagued since it was badly damaged by the collapsing Twin Towers on 9/11. The demolition was delayed for a multitude of reasons for years, then it finally began in the spring of 2007. Work halted that August when two firefighters were killed battling a blaze in the building. John Galt Corp., LVI’s predecessor, was indicted for manslaughter at the end of last year, accused of negligent safety violations that contributed to the firefighters’ death.

The deaths, numerous safety violations, and instances of debris falling off the building over the years have heightened neighbors’ concerns about the project.

After the most recent accident, LVI added more lighting to the basement and gave workers additional safety training, said Mike Murphy, spokesperson for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which owns the building.

Although the accident happened last week, the L.M.D.C. did not notify the community until Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 21. Part of the reason for the delay was that the L.M.D.C.’s report on the accident took nearly a week to complete, Murphy said, but it also appeared that the L.M.D.C. was considering not notifying the community at all.

On Wednesday, Murphy initially told Downtown Express the accident was not significant enough to qualify for community notification. However, the e-mailed update sent later in the afternoon promised that future updates would include “serious worker injury and/or rescue, on-site power failures [and] contained fires,” even if those incidents do not directly affect the public.

That level of notification was exactly what L.M.D.C. President David Emil promised the community at a City Council hearing earlier this month, when residents were upset over not being notified when a metal rod fell from the building into a protected work zone.

Rob Spencer, director of media services at the Organization of Staff Analysts union, said it is important to hear about injuries like the recent broken leg because they can provide a window into site safety. He found out about the injury from the Dept. of Buildings Web site before the L.M.D.C. announced it.

“If there were multiple injuries — as there were in the period before the fire — this [would be] one cautionary signal to the community that the process was not going forward as well as had been reported,” Spencer said. “If there’s a pattern, we’re concerned. If there’s no pattern, we’re interested in knowing about it, but there’s less of an immediacy of concern.”

Julie@DowntownExpress.com




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