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New York law protects against building and construction accidents

The recent tragic collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh reinforces the importance of inspections and safety regulations as a means of preventing construction and other building accidents. Fortunately, there has not been a serious building collapse in New York City for some time, in part because of the strict safety regulations that are in place. However, they do occur. Thankfully, none have resulted in the staggering death toll that resulted from the unsafe building on the other side of the world.

Abandoned buildings are the most likely to collapse in New York. In 2012, an empty warehouse in Queens collapsed, crushing a car parked nearby. The owner had been fined the previous year for plumbing and building stability problems.

A building in Mamaroneck collapsed in April of this year. The building had been scheduled for demolition the next day. No one was injured, although the street was closed while debris was removed from the roadway.

In upstate New York, Schenectady building inspectors refused to step into 23 abandoned buildings because they were so unstable. City officials were preparing a report about the worst buildings as part of a grant application to demolish 45 of the city's worst buildings.

These few examples underscore the importance of New York's building safety regulations and provide a stark contrast to the situation in Bangladesh. One reason New York City has stringent protections for workers and bui8lding inhabitants is a disaster at Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911 that killed 146 workers and spurred the creation of workplace and construction safety requirements that are in place today.

Will this disaster in Bangladesh foster a similar safety effort? Time will tell.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "NY inspectors: Dozens of homes near collapse," May 7, 2013.

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