Safety and OSHA News

Construction foreman convicted in connection with worker’s death

A jury has found a construction foreman guilty of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in connection with a worker’s death in a trench collapse. 

Wilmer Cueva, 51, will be sentenced Dec. 15, 2016 and faces up to four years in prison.

Cueva was the foreman of Sky Materials, an excavation contractor. He managed a site in Manhattan where a trench cave-in caused the death of Carlos Moncayo, 22, on April 6, 2016.

The jury convicted Cueva of ignoring warnings about unlawfully inadequate safety precautions and endangering the lives of several other construction workers in the trench.

The trench at the site was over five feet deep and wasn’t sloped, shored or otherwise protected as required by OSHA. The New York City District Attorney’s office says the trenches weren’t secured for a three-month period.

On the day of the collapse, an on-site inspector observed the unprotected trench which was seven feet deep and alerted Cueva who was supervising on site. Cueva didn’t address the inspector’s safety concerns, and an hour later the trench was 13 feet deep.

At that point, the inspector noticed several workers in the trench and told Cueva they needed to get out immediately. Cueva allowed work to continue for two more hours.

Later that morning the trench collapsed and fatally crushed Moncayo.

Earlier this year, Harco Construction LLC was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment for its role in Moncayo’s death.

The case against Sky Materials is pending.

OSHA fined the two companies $280,000.

“Today’s verdict again places companies and managers on notice: Those who knowingly permit unsafe construction practices will face criminal charges if a worker is injured or dies as a result,” said New York D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr.

Vance started the Construction Safety Community Project in January 2016 to train construction workers to recognize safety hazards and report them to law enforcement. Workers can call anonymously to report unsafe conditions.

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