The City Cracks Down: Brooklyn Property Owner Charged With Manslaughter After Worker Dies

On Wednesday, a Brooklyn construction site owner was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a worker who was crushed by a wall, Newsday said.

William Lattarulo had hired a general contractor and an engineer to create
plans to dig the foundation for the laundromat he was building–but he never used them, opting instead to cut
about $90,000 off the budget by paying undocumented laborers, according to Kings County
District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

Hynes also said that
Lattarulo didn’t heed warnings from workers that the foundation of
a residential building next door required additional support, Newsday said.

As a result, a worker died on March 12 underneath the rubble of a collapsed wall, and another worker was hurt.

The charge, according to authorities, should be a warning to contractors who are doing poor construction work in New York.

"Owners and developers, contractors, engineers and architects
are on notice," acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri
said. "Criminal prosecution is possible and it will happen when it
needs to."

New York has seen 16 construction-related deaths this year. In March, a falling crane killed seven people in the city; in late May, a crane crashed onto a building, killing two construction workers.

The May crane accident received extensive media coverage and has prompted the city to re-examine its crane inspection system and overall construction site safety.

Last week, the New York City Building Department’s acting chief inspector of cranes was arrested and charged with taking bribes from crane operators and companies, according to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

James Delayo also was
charged with doctoring business records,
offering false instruments for filing and tampering with public
records, Bloomberg said.

Although the charges weren’t directly related to the recent crane accidents, the timing is key: New York is cracking down. And it doesn’t want another fatal construction site accident to happen.

But will that be possible?

The New York Times published an editorial calling for increased construction site safety on Wednesday, suggesting more building inspectors and stricter penalties for unsafe work sites.

Is that enough?

What will it take to make New York construction sites significantly safer–before the accidents occur?

And should property owners, contractors and other in-charge construction project officials be held responsible for accidents? Do you think it’s fair that William Lattarulo was charged with manslaughter because a worker died on his site?

Post your thoughts and suggestions below …