Thirteen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the resurrected World Trade Center is again opening for business amid controversy over serious injuries suffered by construction workers that were not reported during the site's construction.
The NY Daily News has found that the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties failed to report 34 serious injuries at the World Trade Center construction site to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The report – based on OSHA studies, court documents and city records – sheds light on dozens of injuries in the last decade, including spinal fractures and broken limbs. In one case, Ethan Villalona suffered broken legs and a fractured pelvis after a 79-foot steel beam fell on him. He also suffered from kidney failure, a partial lung collapse and several herniated discs, the newspaper reported.
“We take every incident seriously, review circumstances thoroughly, and deliver appropriate remedial action,” the Port Authority told Al Jazeera in a statement. “We’re proud of what’s been accomplished at the World Trade Center, and we stand by our record, redefining safety procedures and standards, which are being adopted throughout the city and beyond.”
The Port Authority is responsible for the 1 World Trade Center site, and OSHA is responsible for enforcing job-safety laws, while Silverstein Properties is responsible for the other World Trade Center buildings where some of the injuries occurred.
According to OSHA guidelines, employers have to report "all work-related hospitalizations of three or more employees." A new 2015 guideline will require employers to report "all work-related in-patient hospitalizations of one or more employees."
Gary LaBarbera, president of Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater NY, umbrella union at the World Trade Center site, told Al Jazeera in a statement that his organization has "proactively worked to ensure the safety of the 26,000 working men and women at the WTC site. Safety is always our number one priority at worksites across the city, and the WTC is no different."