The U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited a New York City contractor Sept. 27 following the deaths of two workers in a trench collapse last spring at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Officials say the contractor, Bronx-based Triumph Construction Corp., failed to properly support the excavation.
OSHA proposed penalties totaling $59,153 for four serious violations. Francisco Reyes, 41, and Fernando Lagunas Pereira, 28, were working in the 8-ft-wide, 14-ft-deep trench near a power plant at JFK as part of the airport's $19-billion overhaul. The men were digging under a concrete slab, which broke and collapsed, fatally crushing them both, according to OSHA.
Triumph failed to instruct the men about methods to support the slab they were digging under, and failed to properly support the trench as the protective system used did not meet the requirements of OSHA’s excavations standard, officials wrote in the citations.
“Diligent oversight and management of changing worksite conditions could have helped prevent this tragedy from happening,” said Kevin Sullivan, OSHA’s Long Island and Queens area director, in a statement.
Triumph has 15 days after receiving the citation to respond by complying, requesting a conference with OSHA or contesting the findings. The contractor did not immediately respond to ENR inquiries.
Reyes was a 10-year member of Laborers Local 731, while Lagunas Pereira “was just beginning his career,” the union wrote at the time on Twitter, now renamed X.
“There are no words to express how saddened we are by the news, and the thoughts and prayers of every 731 member and their families are with Francisco and Fernando’s loved ones,” the union wrote.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages JFK, issued a stop work order for all construction at the airport following the incident. It said it would conduct its own investigation of the incident. A spokesperson was not immediately available to provide an update.