8 injured in collapse at New Haven construction site
Eight people were injured Friday during a partial building collapse at a construction site in New Haven.
City firefighters and other authorities responded to 188 Lafayette Street at about 12:30 p.m.
“Our units responded immediately within minutes and found several persons in varying degrees of injury, from broken bones to three that were partially buried under the rubble,” Fire Chief John Alston Jr. said during a news conference. “Those persons that were trapped had to be lifted out.”
Two workers were in critical condition, Mayor Justin Elicker said. All were removed from the rubble and taken to the hospital.
"They were doing a concrete pour on this building and, as they were pouring concrete, a portion of the second floor collapsed onto the first floor and then into the basement," Elicker said.
As of mid-day Friday, Elicker reported no fatalities from the incident. He said 36 people were working on the site at the time of the accident.
Alston said workers were spreading the concrete as it was being poured, but "it appears, from their statements, it started to pool in a certain area", which then apparently collapsed.
Wet concrete will harden, so Alston said rescuerers had to work quickly to account for and remove workers from the scene. He said the accident site was filled with unstable structures and sharp rebar.
Elicker said the property is owned by Yale and is being developed into what will be a seven-story residential building by RMS Companies, based in Stamford, Connecticut, which bills itself as a builder of “upscale, modern apartments and luxurious boutique hotels” on its website.
The building is currently two stories high, with two parking levels underground. Plans call for 112 residential units, Elicker said.
RMS Companies has been cited twice over the last decade for serious workplace safety violations at other job sites in Connecticut, according to records available online from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Most recently, OSHA cited the company in March 2017 for one violation of a safety standard pertaining to wiring design and protection after inspecting a construction project in Bethel, according to OSHA records.
The company received an initial penalty of $6,338, which was later reduced to $3,802 through an informal settlement, records show.
Prior to that, the company was cited in 2016 for one serious violation related to safety standards for means of egress at a construction site on Milestone Road in Danbury, OSHA records show. It paid a penalty of $1,871 in that instance.
The company did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. A person who answered the phone at the company's listed number hung up immediately when contacted late Friday afternoon by a reporter.
Randy Salvatore, CEO of RMS Companies, later issued a statement saying that the safety of its construction teams is its “top priority” and that he’s “focused on a full recovery for those who were injured.”
“We will continue to work with our engineers and safety team and all of the appropriate government agencies to fully investigate the incident,” Salvatore said.
Officials from OSHA were on scene to examine what occurred, Elicker said.
"Moving forward there will be a significant investigation," Elicker said.
Lafayette Street is a short distance from Yale New Haven Hospital and the Yale School of Medicine and is home to several medical offices.
Alston said city emergency officials had been talking about responding to building collapses in recent days, in response to the partial collapse of an apartment building in Davenport, Iowa, on Sunday that left three people missing and feared dead.
“They did some excellent work under some harrowing conditions,” Alston said about New Haven first responders. “I'm very proud of that considering what happened in Iowa recently. We've been talking about collapses in our area so they responded admirably.”
This story has been updated. Connecticut Public's Jim Haddadin, Patrick Skahill, Matt Dwyer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.