An owner of a construction firm in the state of New York now finds himself accused of manslaughter because he failed to help his employees secure a retaining wall even after he had been warned that the wall was not safe. After the boss ignored the warning, the wall collapsed, inflicted a fatal on-the-job injury upon an 18-year-old worker, and also hurt two more of the boss’s employees.

The man also faces additional charges such as “falsifying business records.” Some of these charges may be unrelated to the fatal workplace accident, but they suggest a pattern of poor and even outright dishonest business practices.

According to sources, the boss did not have a permit to send his employers into the area of the retaining wall and had not provided appropriate training or instruction on how to conduct demolition at the particular work site. The plan was to convert a building into a five-story structure that would include apartments and a store.

When announcing the charges, officials stated they had been noticing an uptick in fatal workplace injuries and were sending a message that a booming real estate market was not a license for unscrupulous construction firm owners to put their workers’ safety concerns on the backburner. The owner of the construction company, who is facing up to 15 years in prison, posted bail and entered a plea of not guilty to every one of the charges.

Workplace safety is the obligation of every employer in New York. For flagrant violations of this duty, an employer can face criminal charges. However, even more run of the mill safety issues are placed squarely on the shoulders of the employer since they most provide workers’ compensation benefits to their employees.

Source: The New York Times, “Construction companies’ owner is charged in laborer’s death,” Alan Feuer, May 10, 2017.