Construction bigs get licenses pulled over tragic job site death
The city is yanking licenses from two companies involved in the June work-site death of a construction worker in Harlem, officials told the Daily News Tuesday.
The city Buildings Department suspended the special rigger licenses of Wayne Bellet of Bellet Construction and Mohammad Bhutta of Zain Contracting, alleging the two companies failed to get the proper permits before erecting shoddy scaffolding at an Upper Manhattan apartment building.
Carlos Olmedo Lala, 44, died after falling from the second level of the scaffolding June 22, according to a Building Department inspector’s report. DOI is continuing to investigate the death at the St. Nicholas Ave. building.
The family of Lala, who was from Ecuador, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
His death is the city’s eighth construction fatality in 2019. Over the past four years, a total of 44 workers have died on job sites. The numbers have remained steady since 2016, when 12 workers died. In 2017 and 2018, 12 workers died each year as well, according to Buildings Department data.
Aside from suspending their licenses, the Buildings Department issued 15 “aggravated” violations against Bellet and Bhutta, including tickets for lack of adequate supervision, no record of scaffold installation logs and no records of required inspections.
Aggravated violations are issued in particularly egregious cases, a city official said.
The building’s owner, 880 St. Nicholas LLC, also got hit with an additional violation that carries a $287,500 fine. A rep for the company that manages the property, Shamco Management Corp., declined to comment Tuesday.
The suspension of their licenses comes just six days before a Sept. 9 administrative court hearing where the Buildings Department plans to push to permanently revoke Bellet and Bhutta’s rigger licenses.
It comes exactly a week after a partial building collapse in the Bronx killed a hardhat under a mountain of concrete and rubble.
That worker, Segundo Heurta, a native of Ecuador and a father of five, died after the third floor of an under-construction building in Norwood began to crumble and then collapsed completely onto the second floor.
Huerta’s cousin, his nephew and three friends were trapped, but they all made it out alive — barely. His nephew, 21-year-old Manuel Giovanni Huerta, suffered a serious spinal injury. His cousin Santiago Mayancela, 38, suffered a torn ear. Segundo was the only one who perished in the tragedy.
Much less is known about Lala. A city official familiar with the matter could only provide his name and age.