Worker death on Meserole brings renewed city scrutiny • Brooklyn Paper

Worker death on Meserole brings renewed city scrutiny

A construction worker died at this site on Meserole Avenue last week.
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

A construction company with a raft of violations for unsafe building practices is again under scrutiny after a construction worker died last week.

Franklin Velazquez, 49, was helping to remove the façade on the building at the corner of Meserole and Manhattan avenues on May 11 when the scaffold platform failed and he fell two stories. He was rushed to Bellevue Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The next day, the city ordered all work on the four-story building halted, after an inspector met with an engineer on the site.

“There were a lot of safety issues at the site,” said a city spokeswoman. “The company did not properly build scaffolding and the work should not have been done.”

City officials are investigating the building’s contractor, Queens-based Beacon Building Group, which was renovating the Greenpoint building and making it larger. The building had amassed seven violations this year for hazardous working conditions and erecting scaffolding without the proper permits. Four of the violations remain open.

In April, 2009, the agency cited the building’s owner, Gail Hazelwood, for failing to maintain the structure while also having exposed ceiling joists, rafters that were broken and unsecured, and a sagging roof.

The building was also leaning inward eight inches, so the city vacated the tenants and temporarily halted work on the site.

The city issued violations and the owner corrected conditions at the building. This March, the owner renewed permits for a sidewalk shed, a standard procedure according to a city spokeswoman. However, the building’s contractor did not apply for a scaffolding permit and went ahead conducting work on the building.

A Department of Buildings spokeswoman said that the agency did not give the company permission to build the scaffolding that failed in the accident and that a stop work order is still in effect.

Calls to the Beacon Building Group were not returned.

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