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City remembers fallen workers at memorial mass.

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Called a "somber reminder," hardhat-wearing workers and union contractors descended on St. Patrick's Cathedral last week to honor those who died in construction accidents.

Local 40 Ironworkers member Kenneth Shriver was among the thousands who attended the special mass service. Although he was not on the site when it occurred, Shriver said there was a death last year on his job site at the Triborough Bridge.

"It hits home because I'm married with two children," said Shriver as he waited outside for the services to begin. "It makes you think twice about doing anything dangerous."

Last Tuesday's mass was held on Workers' Memorial Day, recognized as an international day of mourning.

The Big Apple event was organized by the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, various local union affiliates, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and several others.

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri, who took over last year at a time when New York was contending with several high-profile construction disasters, was in attendance with his own hardhat.

"It's a somber reminder of how dangerous construction is and that everyone's safety is the number one priority for them and us," he said of the event. "We need to change the culture on the job site, and we're making some headway."

LiMandri was referring to the Building Department's new regulations and campaigns that began last year in an attempt to prevent accidents.

Organizers said 18 workers--this includes sites beyond the purview of the Buildings Department such as bridges--have died at various worksites in New York since last April.

"This mass is about showing unity and remembering the courageous workers who have lost their lives or have been injured on job sites across this great city," Father Brian J. Jordan, labor/priest/immigration counselor and event organizer, said in a prepared statement.

"Workers' Memorial Day gives us time to reflect upon the lost lives, offer compassion for those who have been injured and to pray for the dignity of human labor."

Officials and workers milled outside St. Patrick's Cathedral prior to the start of the mass. Many said they came to pay their respects to those who gave the "ultimate sacrifice." Occupational Safety and Health Administration Regional Administrator Robert D. Kulick said 50-70% of workplace deaths across the nation occur in the construction field. "If today is like any other, 16 workers are not going home today," Kulick said. He said it was important to see so many stakeholders and representatives in attendance. "It shows leadership," he added.
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Comment:City remembers fallen workers at memorial mass.
Author:Majeski, John
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 6, 2009
Words:420
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