A construction laborer died Aug. 12 after being struck by a machine attachment at an apartment project in New York City's borough of Brooklyn, city officials said. The incident is under investigation by the city Dept. of Buildings and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

City officials ordered all work at the project to stop, and, mindful of the city's poor safety record in recent years, noted that its inquiry was being done in coordination with law enforcement. 

The police department identified the worker as Pape Khoule, 46, of Elizabeth, N.J. His death is the city's fifth building construction-related fatality of 2022. A spokesman for the U.S. unit of Australia-based Lendlease, Khoule's employer and the project's prime contractor, says, “we extend our deepest condolences to the individual’s loved ones." The firm is cooperating in the investigations.

Workers on the site were in the beginning stages of work on a 14-story apartment building in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood. They were using an excavator to transport pipe posts from one side of the site to the other.

Khoule was using straps to secure the posts to an excavator’s arm, says a spokesman for the Dept. of Buildings, when a lifting attachment on the machine's arm, which weighed at least one ton, dropped and struck him. "The machinery failed," the spokesman says. But there is no information yet about how or why.

"Nothing is more important than keeping New Yorkers safe, and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect the public," said Eric Ulrich, Dept. of Buildings commissioner.

The buildings department says it has been making progress toward reducing construction accidents. From 2018 to 2021, construction-related injuries declined by a third, says the spokesman, but he notes that as of September, there had been five building construction fatalities so far this year.