Mark Lennihan / AP

Unreported injuries at World Trade Center cloud reopening

One WTC has officially opened for business, with employees of Condé Nast showing up to work

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."

Dozens of serious injuries at the World Trade Center site were unreported to OSHA, according to a news report.
Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

Condé Nast employees on Monday started moving into 1 World Trade Center, the 104-story, $3.9-billion skyscraper that dominates the Manhattan skyline. The publishing giant is the first commercial tenant in America's tallest building.

The building is the centerpiece of the 16-acre site where the decimated twin towers once stood and where more than 2,700 people died on Sept. 11, 2001, buried under smoking mounds of debris.

"The New York City skyline is whole again, as 1 World Trade Center takes its place in Lower Manhattan," said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

He said 1 World Trade Center "sets new standards of design, construction, prestige and sustainability; the opening of this iconic building is a major milestone in the transformation of Lower Manhattan into a thriving 24/7 neighborhood."

With construction fences gone and boxes of office equipment in place, Condé Nast CEO Chuck Townsend planned to walk Monday into what Foye calls "the most secure office building in America."

Only about 170 of his company's 3,400 employees are moving in now, said Patricia Rockenwagner, a Condé Nast spokeswoman. About 3,000 more will arrive by early 2015 to fill five floors of the tower.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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