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Trash Station Workers Ignored Safety Rules Before Chisel Broke Window: City

By DNAinfo Staff on July 11, 2014 2:55pm  | Updated on July 14, 2014 8:53am

Asphalt Green Accident
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Asphalt Green

UPPER EAST SIDE — Workers at the city's 91st Street Marine Transfer Station construction site used improper equipment and ignored safety procedures — causing a 10-pound jackhammer chisel to smash trough a window and injure a woman working out at the Asphalt Green sports complex Wednesday, according to statements issued by the city and the contractor for the site.

"The incident should never have happened," the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Sanitation said in a joint statement released Friday afternoon.

Seven workers on the job site were fired, the project's contractor said, and construction remains suspended while the investigation continues.

The flying chisel smashed through a double-paned window on the fourth floor of Asphalt Green, a sports facility center near the construction site. It landed next to Robin Cocking, a 59-year-old Asphalt Green employee, showering her with glass as she exercised on stretching mats.

Cocking was brought to Lenox Hill hospital and treated for minor cuts, but she was released from the hospital the same day, officials said.

The preliminary investigation showed that employees from Skanska, the contractor for the site, used improper equipment to lift and transport a manhole casing, the statement said.

"Seven people were involved and all of them have been fired from the job and fired from our company," a spokeswoman from Skanska said.

A Department of Design and Construction safety inspector will be added to the construction site at all times to monitor the contractor, the city's statement added. The Department of Design and Construction also said it would double the number of safety inspections.

Carol Tweedy, Asphalt Green's senior advisor and former executive director, said in a statement that she wanted more safety assurances.

“It is shocking that the City and Skanska have accepted responsibility for this terrible accident, but refuse to stop construction during our summer day camp," Tweedy said.

"It is time that the city accept the fact that construction must stop and that this ramp [that workers are building adjacent to Asphalt Green] must be moved," she added.

Asphalt Green, along with several local organizations, have fiercely fought against the construction of the Marine Transfer Station. Anti-transfer station activists have argued that the station will overwhelm the residential neighborhood with garbage trucks and toxic fumes.

"We're at a turning point. Enough is enough. We have to stand up like we never stood up before," a leader from the anti-transfer organization Pledge 2 Protect said during a community meeting Thursday night.

"The time for being nice is coming to a close," Pledge 2 Protect volunteer Gus Christensen told residents at the meeting. "We need to speak the language that today’s City Hall understands, and that language is civil disobedience."