Two construction workers at a disused building in Mineola on Long Island got more than they bargained for when a ceiling collapsed on them as they were preparing the area for asbestos decontamination.
The two construction workers were part of a team of 19 who were preparing the old Social Security headquarters for Nassau County for removal of asbestos known to be present.
The two workers were buried for a time in ceiling rubble, and it is not known how much asbestos may have affected them. Asbestos removal is a highly trained and potentially dangerous task, and any worker who regularly has the job of removing asbestos from older buildings typically faces possible serious long-term illness if safety precautions are not adhered to.
The company which has the contract for the asbestos removal is PAL Environmental Services of Queens.
A total of 19 workers were present in the building at the time of the collapse, but it appears that only two of them were directly under the part of the building that collapsed. Apparently, a large slab of concrete with accompanying wire racks fell down on top of the two accident victims. They were decontaminated for asbestos exposure in case of possible contamination by the ceiling debris and then they were sent to a nearby hospital.
The other workers reported that there was some confusion about the circumstances of the accident. They were told to get out by a supervisor either just before or after the ceiling collapsed, although these workers were not immediately adjacent to the accident site. They were then decontaminated using a shower, but not told immediately what had happened.
It appears that the construction company was a bit reticent about the accident, as it reportedly pulled some of the workers away from reporters who had been trying to get a news report at the scene. One worker admitted that he didn’t know what to do about the possibility of asbestos contamination as he said he didn’t even know the details of what had happened.
Fortunately, the two workers, aged 26 and 46, were not seriously hurt by the falling concrete, although it is not known at this stage if they inhaled any asbestos-containing dust, as they had actually been covered in debris for some time after the ceiling collapse and had to be dug out. It is thought that the space left by the collapsed ceiling is almost certainly contaminated by asbestos.
Asbestos removal work is extremely important to the whole community, and it is hoped that any construction company that is contracted to deal with this sort of specialized work makes sure that their workers are well protected from the dangers of contact with asbestos. Unfortunately, many asbestos removal jobs involve older buildings, so there is a double concern for those who do this sort of work.
Construction workers who become injured or fall ill through no fault of their own because of the negligence of the company they work for should be protected by workers’ compensation. In some cases, workers’ compensation does not adequately compensate a worker for the total long-term cost of an industrial accident. It is wise in these circumstances to seek the help and advice of a personal injury lawyer who has had experience with construction accidents.
If you are a construction worker who has been seriously injured in the New York or Long Island area, you can be assured that there are experienced New York and Long Island lawyers such as Richard S. Jaffe Esq., who will work tirelessly to ensure that a favorable claim is won.
You can contact Richard S. Jaffe for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll free: 800-483-6149.
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