Officials call for investigation into death of construction worker at Jamaica site

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State Senator Jose Peralta and members of a Jackson Heights nonprofit are demanding that the city find out what went wrong after a 34-year-old construction worker died in Jamaica two weeks ago.

Edgar Pazmino was killed on March 13 after he was pinned by a forklift at 152-11 89th Ave. Pazmino, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was a member of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), a Jackson Heights-based nonprofit that is asking New York to better protect construction workers.

According to reports, Pazmino was working with another employee to move a large window with a forklift. The forklift operator dropped the window against a wall, crushing Pazmino in the process.

Pazmino’s brother-in-law told the Daily News that he didn’t feel safe on the site. He is survived by two sisters, who live in Jamaica.

According to the Department of Buildings records, a stop-work order was issued on the site in December 2017. The site also racked up 37 open violations from the Environmental Control Board. The Chetrit Group is constructing a four-building residential complex with 324 luxury apartments.

Peralta is calling on the state Senate to pass Carlos’ Law, which was named after Carlos Moncayo, a migrant worker who was killed in an accident at a construction site. The legislation would increase fines and penalties when an employer “ignores, disregards or fails to comply with workplace safety by protocols or procedures, and that contributes directly to bodily injury, serious physical injury or the death of a worker.”

In the case of Moncayo, who was buried alive in a 13-foot trench at a construction site in Manhattan, the general contractor Harco Construction was not ordered to pay a fine or serve jail time. Instead, they were told to produce print and television public service announcements in English and Spanish to promote worksite safety.

Peralta said Latino workers are “disproportionately affected by accidents in the workplace” and urged his colleagues to pass the legislation.

“My heart goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of Edgar, a hard-working immigrant who lost his life while working at a construction site,” he said. “Enough is enough. We must tackle this epidemic once and for all. It was troubling to find out that this particular construction site is plagued with safety violations, and that there were several stop work orders issued. In fact, last September there was a partial stop work order because a construction worker fell from the eighth to the seventh floor.”

According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 5,190 work-related deaths in 2016, a 7 percent increase from the 4,836 fatalities in 2015.

“Our community is heartbroken by Edgar’s death. He will be remembered for his sense of humor and eagerness to participate,” said Manuel Castro, executive director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). “Edgar’s memory must be honored by ensuring this does not happen again. His death could have been avoided. With nearly 500 construction-related deaths in the past decade, this is a crisis that must be addressed urgently. We implore our representatives to support Carlos’ Law — legislation that could have helped Edgar and many others.”