The biggest tragedy is that the deaths could have been prevented, mourns highly experienced New York personal injury attorney, David Perecman.
New York, New York – July 6, 2009 – Three workers, including a father and son, were killed on June 29, 2009 in a gruesome personal injury accident at a privately operated waste transfer plant in Jamaica, Queens. All three apparently suffocated after falling into a manhole-sized, 18-foot deep well filled with four feet of liquid sludge and deadly hydrogen sulfide gas. The first man fell by accident while trying to vacuum the putrid well. The other two men died, one after another, in attempted rescues with a rope and ladder. All died after being overcome by the toxic fumes, a common byproduct of decomposing garbage.
Questions were immediately raised by New York personal injury attorneys about the lack of worker training for this dangerous job. Preliminary evidence indicates that all three men were probably unaware of -and untrained in- the danger. New York personal injury attorneys also note that the tragedy was not purely accidental in that safety violations, including the lack of proper equipment, were also undoubtedly avoidable factors.
“What makes this tragedy worse is that the errors leading to the deaths could have been prevented,” says New York personal injury attorney David Perecman.
Harel Dahan, a subcontractor on the site, was the first to be overcome by the high concentration of deadly gas collecting in the narrow shaft. His father Shlomo Dahan, was the second to succumb after he descended into the vat in an attempt to save his incapacitated son. The last man, Rene Francisco Rivas, an employee of the recycling plant, suffered the same toxic fate at the bottom of the well while trying to help the first two men.
The three workers were found face down in the murky water at the bottom of the hole. A firefighter trained to work in confined spaces recovered the bodies. He wore a breathing apparatus and protective clothing.
Also of interest to New York personal injury attorneys are the records from the most recent federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection of the commercial plant that was conducted earlier this year. These records show that OSHA cited several serious violations at the plant including unsafe floor and wall openings and holes, and inadequate respiratory protection and medical services, among other problems. The company was directed to pay thousands of dollars in penalties In connection with those violations.
In 2006, the same facility had been fined the sum of $1,500 by OSHA after a personal injury case in which a worker was crushed to death when the driver of a Caterpillar tractor accidentally rolled over him.
“These kinds of accidents have been happening all too often. It appears that profit considerations too often may be leading to potentially dangerous and, in the most unfortunate personal injury cases, fatal consequences,” says Perecman, a New York personal injury attorney who sees a pattern becoming all too familiar.