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Ground Zero & Construction Worksite Liability

The tallest buildings in the world, before the construction of the Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago, the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were monuments of American ingenuity. However, after September 11, 2001, following an Al-Qaeda linked terrorist attack, the site became American hallowed ground.

As new construction on the site is underway, the attention of the nation and the world is back on Lower Manhattan’s West 57th, Liberty, Church and Vesey Streets- otherwise known as Ground Zero. Four new skyscrapers, a mass transit rail station and a National September 11 Memorial and Museum are being constructed. Because of the highly sensitive nature of the undertaking, the Silverstein Properties and its risk management department are taking extra precautions.

An estimated 45 safety personnel managers representing the thousands of developers, consultants, contractors and subcontractors will be employed on the Silverstein property. By December 2011, nearly 5,000 workers may be on site. 3,500 workers set to work on the 16-acre site have already been hired. Many believe that no other construction project in America can or has matched the logistics, coordination and complexity of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center.

Workers for the World Trade Center rebirth project can be subject to risks such as falls, electrocution, collapses, punctures, strains, sprains, fires, exposure to hazardous chemicals and falling objects. In 2010, 4,547 fatal work injuries were recorded, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nearly 800 of these were reported in the construction industry. For that year, nearly one in every six work-related deaths were linked to construction-related accidents. Construction accidents and issues are not alien to the State of New York, which has had its share of headlining accidents such as falls, scaffolding collapses and trench cave-ins.

However, for this project workers must be certified and participate in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training class, as well as participate in site security orientation. In addition, the project will have onsite health care. Various federal, state and city agencies will monitor the risks for work related injuries. Builders for the new World Trade Center have clearly made safety the driving force for this construction project and are committed to making sure no more lives are lost at Ground Zero.


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