Real Estate Weekly
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Construction & Design

Riggers suspended after worker falls to his death

The Department of Buildings has suspended the Special Rigger Licenses of two individuals whose alleged negligence led to a construction fatality on June 22, 2019 at 880 St. Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan.

In addition, DOB is issuing 15 aggravated violations to these individuals and one to the building owner, which carry fines of $287,500.

DOB investigators allege that the two riggers, Wayne Bellet of Bellet Construction Co., Inc. and Mohammad Bhutta of Zain Contracting, Inc., did not obtain DOB permits, as required, before putting up an approximately 50 ft. high section of pipe scaffolding outside the building, upon which workers were performing façade repair work.

The worker who died had been installing new façade bricks and repairing existing ones in the rear of the building prior to falling from the second-story level of the scaffolding to the ground.

DOB alleges that the scaffolding lacked critical safety measures, including proper guardrails and adequate planks to support the workers, and that the workers did not have required scaffold-safety training.

DOB’s suspension of the two licenses took effect on September 3, 2019, in advance of an upcoming hearing at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), where the agency will pursue the full revocation of Bellet’s and Bhutta’s Special Rigger Licenses.

Once the OATH hearing has concluded, an Administrative Law Judge will issue a recommendation to Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca, who will then consider the entire record before making the final decision on these cases.

As well as the 16 violations for the deficiencies, the DOB has cited several other hazards, including a lack of adequate supervision, no design drawings on site, no scaffold-installation logs or records, and no records of required pre-shift inspections of the scaffold.

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