- General contractor Lendlease is suing New York City's Department of Buildings (DOB) and the Office of Administration Trials and Hearings (OATH) over a citation the DOB issued the company in 2018 after a glass panel fell during construction of the $3 billion Central Park Tower, killing a security guard, according to The Real Deal.
- The DOB issued Lendlease several citations after the accident, including one that accused the company of failing to safeguard the public during construction. Lendlease argues that the security guard who died, Harry Ramnauth, was not a member of the public since he was employed at the building. The general contractor also maintains that the DOB issued the citation three days after the accident during a follow-up inspection and not based on conditions at the project on the day of the accident.
- Lendlease was able to successfully fight other citations related to the accident, but OATH, an independent hearings tribunal, upheld the citation at issue, which carries a $25,000 penalty. Lendlease, contractor Pinnacle Industries and developer Extell reportedly settled with Ramnauth's family for $1.25 million, a deal that still must be approved by a judge.
Central Park Tower, which will open this year, will be the world's tallest residential building at 112 floors and 1,550 feet. Department store Nordstrom will occupy seven floors of the building as well. Extell started sales in 2018, and the high-rise has a projected sellout of $4 billion.
OSHA cited Lendlease in the accident and fined the company $12,934 under standard 1926.250(a)(3), which requires that aisles and passageways be kept clear so that material handling equipment or employees may move freely. Ramnauth, according to the administration inspection report, was crushed after a glass curtain wall and the metal rack on which it was being stored tipped over as he was walking by. Lendlease is contesting that citation and penalty as well.
The agency cited another contractor, Permasteelisa North America Corp. in the accident. The company, which also has offices in New York City, is contesting the citation and a $12,934 fine as well.
Permasteelisa has been inspected by OSHA eight times since April 2015. On April 13, 2015, in Miami, a Permasteelia employee was pinned to the ground, crushed and killed by the weight of four 6-foot by 7-foot glass panels that fell on top of him as he opened a shipping crate. That case was closed, and there is no indication that the company was cited or fined for that incident.
There are many reasons that an employer might contest an OSHA or building department violation that finds it responsible for a serious injury or death, not the least of which is that the company genuinely could believe that it is not at fault. Another more practical reason is that companies perceived as unsafe could see that reflected in future workers’ compensation and general liability insurance premiums or surety bond rates.