One construction worker died and three others were injured after a wall collapsed onto them at a demolition work site in SoHo on Tuesday.
Workers were performing demolition work on the second floor of 126 Lafayette St. in Manhattan when a wall collapsed, trapping one of them under debris, FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens said. Two other workers fell on top of the debris, and a fourth worker was also injured.
The worker who was trapped under the wall debris was taken to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition. Later in the afternoon, the Department of Buildings reported one worker died of their injuries. Their name was not immediately released.
“It's an unfortunate accident. And we are going to be investigating to see how this happened,” Hodgens said.
On Feb. 7, the Department of Buildings issued a partial work order at the site and also issued five violations to the contractor, RJB Contracting Carting Corp., for several safety issues found during an inspection. Those included storing 50 tons of construction material on the first floor, which was overloading the floor, and failure to remove hazardous materials and fixtures prior to the start of demolition.
Other violations included the removal of the building's sprinklers out of sequence with the demolition plans, tarps that were unsafely hanging from the scaffolding, and a construction shanty that was constructed out of material that was not fireproof.
The stop work order was lifted three days later after the contractor corrected the conditions and a subsequent DOB inspection found the site was safe. The DOB said it did not appear that Tuesday's incident was a result of the violations issued last month. RJB Contracting Carting Corp. did not immediately return a request for comment.
Tuesday’s fatality was the first building construction death of the year, according to the DOB. Construction worker deaths in the city reached a five-year high last year, with 22 people dying on the job. A new law that increased the maximum legal fine for construction companies convicted of criminal negligence that led to an employee's severe injury or death from $10,000 to $500,000 went into effect in January.
Mayor Eric Adams visited the construction site on Tuesday afternoon and thanked the first responders for their work. The Department of Buildings said the investigation into what exactly happened on Tuesday is still ongoing.