By Bill Parry
A Jackson Heights nonprofit and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) demanded a full investigation into the death of Edgar Pazmino, a construction worker killed at his workplace in Jamaica earlier in March.
Pazmino, an Ecuadorian immigrant and member of the nonprofit New Immigrants Community Empowerment, was crushed against a wall by a forklift March 13 at a high-rise luxury construction site located on 89th Avenue and 150th Street.
Peralta also renewed his call for the New York State Senate to pass Carlos’ Law, legislation that would protect workers from employers who do not comply with safety protocols at construction sites. Under the proposal, which is co-sponsored by Peralta, fines and penalties will increase when an employer or supervisor “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.”
The legislation was named after Carlos Moncayo, a migrant worker who was killed at a Manhattan construction site in 2015. Since Congress enacted the Occupational Safety Health Act in 1970, there have been more than 400,000 workplace fatalities. In 2016 alone, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 5,190 work-related deaths, a 7 percent increase from the 4,836 fatalities reported the previous year.
“My heart goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of Edgar, a hardworking immigrant who lost his life while working on a construction site,” Peralta 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. Latino workers are disproportionately affected by accidents in the workplace that result in death or serious injuries. It is time to put an end to this. It is my hope that my colleagues in the Senate take note and finally pass Carlos’ Law.”
Manuel Castro, the executive director of the New Immigrant Community Empowerment, a workers’ center in Jackson Heights, said his community is heartbroken by Pazmino’s death.
“Edgar’s memory must be honored by ensuring that this does not happen again. His death could have been avoided,” Castro said. “We believe New York can be doing much more to protect workers. 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. Finally, we ask for prayers and support for the family in their time of morning.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr