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Stop work order on New Haven building collapse zone remains in place pending investigation

New Haven firefighters exit the building after after inspecting the area where eight people were injured during a partial building collapse at a construction site at 188 Lafayette Street in New Haven, Connecticut June 02, 2023.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
New Haven firefighters exit the building after after inspecting the area where eight people were injured during a partial building collapse at a construction site at 188 Lafayette Street in New Haven, Connecticut June 02, 2023.

Six of the eight construction workers injured in a partial building collapse in New Haven on Friday were released from the hospital. Two other workers who were also hurt remain hospitalized in fair condition.

The collapse happened at a construction site on Lafayette St. around 12:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. Workers were building what is planned to be a 112-unit, 7-story apartment building.

There will be two levels of underground parking, according to city land records. The property is owned by Yale University. Stamford-based RMS Companies is the developer and owns the building.

A preliminary investigation indicates the cause of the collapse was due to workers pouring concrete faster than it could be spread. Rescue efforts took about 45 minutes, according to New Haven Fire Chief John Alston Jr.

“Three calls came in. One was a passerby that heard a loud noise and crash and believed the building was falling down and two were from the work area,” Alston said. “Within minutes we found several persons in varying degrees of injury, from broken bones to three partially buried under the rubble.”

The incident follows a recent accident in Iowa in which a century-old, six-story apartment building collapsed, killing three men.

The collapse in New Haven came just two days after another collapse in Connecticut. A portion of the ceiling at the Stamford Transportation Center collapsed last Wednesday, injuring one person. The state Department of Transportation is investigating the collapse.

Alston said the department had collapses and catastrophes on the forefront of their minds.

They did some excellent work under some harrowing conditions. I’m very proud of that considering what happened in Iowa recently, we’ve been talking about collapses in our area and they responded admirably,” he said.

The city issued a stop work order for the site of the collapse at 188 Lafayette St., according to New Haven Building Inspector Robert Dillon. RMS has no other active construction projects in the city.

Dillon is considering a request from RMS to return to the site to begin clearing collapse debris. He visited three construction sites Monday, speaking with superintendents to ensure all safety measures are in place.

“Everybody that I spoke to on the job sites were pretty tidy,” Dillon said. “I didn't have any problems at all, zero. Again, this is in my opinion, a one-off. And I hope it never happens again."

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said all permits involved in the construction appear to be up to date.

RMS was previously cited for multiple serious workplace safety violations in the last decade, according to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records.

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.

Following the collapse, RMS CEO Randy Salvatore said, “We will continue to work with our engineers and safety team and all of the appropriate government agencies to fully investigate the incident.”

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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