Construction Worker Victor Irizarry Died In Fort Salonga Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Accident While Removing Slit From Long Island Drainage Pipe
SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK (November 10, 2021) – A construction worker identified as Victor Irizarry has tragically died in a Fort Salongna, Long Island carbon monoxide poisoning accident while removing a slit from a drainage pipe.
Suffolk County police officials are saying that the accident took place on Tuesday, November 9th. Victor Irizarry was working to remove a slit from a draining pipe when he suddenly stopped responding to coworkers.
One coworker went down the drainage pipe in order to rescue the victim. But that worker began to experience respiratory distress and returned to the surface.
The Kings Park Fire Department was called to the scene of the accident in order to rescue the worker. Victor Irizarry was taken to the hospital in order to receive treatment. But he later died due to the severity of his injuries.
Firefighters said that carbon monoxide levels inside of the pipe he was working in were dangerously high. A full investigation into the cause of the accident remains ongoing at this time.
Liability In Fort Salonga, Long Island Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Accidents
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that is typically produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Products that can produce carbon monoxide will include portable generators, cars and natural gas pipelines. Exposure to carbon monoxide at 1 – 70 parts per million (ppm) can lead to chest pain and respiratory distress. Sustained exposure to carbon monoxide at 150 – 200 ppm can lead to disorientation, unconsciousness and death. There are a number of steps that a person should take if they believe they have been exposed to carbon monoxide.
- Immediately move outside to fresh air if possible.
- Call 911 and have them investigate the potential leak.
- Do not re-enter any premises suspected of having a carbon monoxide leak unless you have been given permission to do so by professionals.
- Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
According to one report from OSHA, “at-risk occupations [for carbon monoxide poisoning] include welders, forklift operators, and public safety personnel (fire, police and emergency first responders). People who work in confined spaces also have increased exposure risk.” Carbon monoxide has often been called a silent killer and leads to an average of 20,000 emergency room visits per year. There are a number of steps that employers can take in order to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure in the workplace.
- Employers should recognize the circumstances and locations under which an employee could become exposed to carbon monoxide.
- Employees should be trained to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure.
- Air should be tested regularly where carbon monoxide could be present, as required under Title 29, CFR 1910.146.
- Ventilation systems should be installed to remove carbon monoxide from confined spaces.
- Equipment that produces carbon monoxide should be properly maintained.
- When possible, electric equipment that doesn’t produce carbon monoxide should be preferred for confined spaces.
Depending on the facts of any case, a construction company could be liable for an accident if one of their workers is harmed or killed from exposure to carbon monoxide. Far from being freak occurrences, deaths and injuries from carbon monoxide exposure are often highly preventable and due to lapses in workplace safety. Liability for carbon monoxide exposure in the workplace will typically be established under two statutes in New York: New York Labor Law 200 and New York Labor Law 241(6).
- New York Labor Law § 200: This statute is a codification of an employer’s general responsibility to maintain a safe worksite for their employees. As outlined in the statute, “All places to which this chapter applies shall be so constructed, equipped, arranged, operated and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health and safety of all persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places.”
- New York Labor Law § 241(6): This statute creates a non-delegable duty for owners and general contractors who are engaged in construction, demolition, and excavation. A construction company or general contractor could be liable for a worker’s death if they violated a specific safety code. That violation itself establishes fault. OSHA standards prohibit worker exposure to CO gas of more than 50 parts per million (ppm) averaged over an 8 hour period. Per the guidelines of Title 29, CFR 1910.146, air should be regularly tested where carbon monoxide could be present.
The family of any worker that died in a carbon monoxide poisoning accident may be able to seek justice through N.Y. Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 5-4.1 (2021). Damages in a civil claim can help cover some of the expenses that often coincide with the sudden and tragic loss of a loved one. Potential beneficiaries in a civil claim will typically include a victim’s next of kin including their spouse and children. Sadly, however, construction companies will often fight extremely hard to deny responsibility when one of their workers is injured or killed. A New York wrongful death attorney can examine all of the facts of your case free of cost and get to the bottom of what caused an accident.
Investigating A Fort Salonga, Long Island Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Accident
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Victor Irizarry. Any person that may have information about what happened should reach out to OSHA as they continue their investigation. There needs to be some accountability for the sake of all who have lost so much.
This accident also raises a number of safety concerns. What is the safety record of the construction company working on the sewer line? Were OSHA guidelines and NY industrial codes followed? Was this sewer line tested for the presence of carbon monoxide before workers started their shift? Worker safety should always be the number one priority for any construction company. But far too often efficiency and profits are prioritized in a way that puts construction workers at risk.