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Falling Guardrail Results in Stop Work Order at NYC's Tallest Building

No one was injured in an incident at what is thought to be the tallest building in New York City, 432 Park Avenue. However, the accident illustrates a common hazard in high-rise building construction - falls resulting from missing or damaged guard rails.

Last week, a section of guardrail about eight feet long fell to the sidewalk on 56th Street. It became separated from a hoist on the 81st floor. The building will ultimately be 96 stories tall, taller than 1 World Trade Center without its spire. It guardrail fell in front of the entrance to a building across the street, which is currently occupied.

The accident occurred last Wednesday. On Thursday, the Department of Buildings and the hoist installer inspected the building site and determined that it was safe to rescind the stop-work order issued the day before.

This was not the first stop work order issued by the Department of Buildings. In February of 2013, the DOB issued a stop work order because of five safety violations it found during an inspection after an accident that injured a worker. According to news reports, the worker was injured when a piece of 4 x 8 plywood fell to the ground from the fifth floor while it was being lifted.

Just days before this incident, a stop work order was issued by the DO =B after a crane smashed into an adjoining building because of what DOB called "inadequate safety measures." The DOB also issued an order early in the project, in 2011. That stop work order was the result of demolition being started without the correct permitting.

Falling objects, such as detached guardrails or sheets of plywood are one of the most common causes of construction injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration