Building pressure on construction

A woman with a stroller walks by construction equipment in Manhattan.

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: There've been at least 15 construction-related deaths in New York City so far this year. An owner of a construction site in Brooklyn was charged with manslaughter this week after a worker died on the job. Alisa Roth takes a look at whether such a charge will put pressure on builders.


Alisa Roth: The worker died when a trench he was digging collapsed. The construction site's owner is being charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. He's being held on a $25,000 bond.

David Uhlmann: The city is sending a message to construction companies that they need to make worker safety a priority.

David Uhlmann's a law professor at the University of Michigan. He says this kind of accidental death doesn't fit precisely into the definition of manslaughter. But New York's trying to make a point.

The district attorney prosecuting the case and the city's building commissioner both say they'll pursue more of these lawsuits in the future.

Uhlmann says those cases may not end with a prosecution. But authorities don't have many alternatives since even at the federal level, this kind of crime is only a misdemeanor under workplace protection laws.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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