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Flushing site made part of city Site Safety Week

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Ira Gluckman, Queens borough commissioner for the city Department of Buildings, donned a hard hat and rode a hoist to the 14th floor of a building under construction at 37-14 Prince St. in Flushing last Thursday.

The trip was part of Site Safety Week, an effort by the department to raise awareness about construction worker protections across the city.

Visiting a different work site in a different borough each day last week, Gluckman reminded workers at the tower to follow safety guidelines and laws and use safety equipment at all times.

“Safety is the primary concern. Sure, we want to get things built, but safety is the No. 1 thing,” he told workers, who put down their saws and nail guns and gathered in a partly finished apartment. “We want everyone to be able to go home every night to their families and to collect a paycheck and to be able to return to work in the morning.”

The first five floors of the building will be retail, including a one-floor daycare center, and the top 10 will be residential housing, either apartments or condominiums.

Gluckman, whose words were also translated into Chinese because most of the workers did not speak English, emphasized the need for workers to wear hardhats, which he called their first line of defense, and to make sure they use harnesses properly when on upper floors. He also went over basic rules such as not smoking on-site, getting help from co-workers for heavy lifting and ensuring proper lighting.

“If you protect yourselves and your fellow workers, you’re protecting everybody and everything’s going to progress better,” he told the assembled workers. “Thank you everybody on behalf of the city of New York for everything you’re doing.”

The site visit came just a day after International Workers Memorial Day, an annual day of remembrance for workers killed, injured, disabled or sickened while on the job.

“Today is a memorial for those construction workers,” James Conway, director of industry advancement for the International Union of Operating Engineers. “They gave us the conveniences we enjoy today.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 5:48 pm, October 10, 2011
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