A New York City, 51-year old construction foreman whose negligence left a 22-year-old crushed to death was sentenced to 1 to 3 years behind bars for criminally negligent homicide Thursday, as a Manhattan judge ripped into him for the accident, saying, “You let him die. To put it bluntly — but for you, he would be alive today,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Anthony Ferrara told Wilmer Cueva, referencing his late employee Carlos Moncayo. “Your negligence killed him,” the judge continued. “The bottom line is the foreman is supposed to protect his employees, his friends. And you let him die,” according to the New York Post December 15, 2016 story.

Moncayo was crushed to death when the side of a Meatpacking District trench he was working in collapsed, after inspectors repeatedly told Cueva the site was unsafe, according to trial testimony.

The young man, who Cueva had called his “friend”, was exiting the trench for lunch when “a large chunk fell and buried him alive, crushed him alive — crushed his bones, crushed his chest, his teeth, his skull..literally crushed his heart,” prosecutor Diana Florence told the court.

Often the top four causes of fatal construction injuries are referred to as the “fatal four.” The fatal four include falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions and being caught in between objects which is what this incident would be considered.

We should not be so naive to think just because we have a STOP Work Authority Program in place that all supervisors and foreman are following it. This story is a sad reminder for us all to ensure our supervision is following company safety guidelines and listening to workers when they express concerns. As leaders we need to get out in our plants or to our job sites, talk to workers, let them know that if their concerns are not being heard they can come to us without fear of retribution, and make sure the safety programs we have in place are what we expect them to be.

O’Brien’s Safety Services, L.L.C. can assist you with safety program compliance with our environmental, health & safety audits and employee surveys. Contact me at carri@obrienssafetyservices to learn more about these programs or other compliance assistance services.