A 72-year-old man was injured Friday afternoon when bricks fell from the façade of a 20-story high-rise building in Manhattan, crashing through scaffolding and scattering on the crowded sidewalk below.
This accident occurred in the Upper East Side around 3:30 p.m. on First Avenue and East 57th Street, where there is construction being done on an outdoor terrace area at the 15th to 18th stories of the building.
Initially, it was not clear if the bricks fell as a result of construction activities. Inspectors from the Department of Buildings (DOB) soon arrived on the scene, however, and determined that “there was façade work taking place, and a section [of] brick veneer dislodged and fell onto the sidewalk shed.”
The FDNY said the victim, who is 72 years old, was struck in the shoulder and foot and refused medical attention at the scene. Video of this harrowing event can be seen at the original ABC7NY article.
The immense danger that falling objects pose is already well-known to employers, general contractors and subcontractors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists “Struck by Object” as the second most common hazard of its “Fatal Four,” or the top four fatal hazards construction workers around the nation face every day, year after year.
To combat this widespread problem, there are numerous regulations in place on both a local and national level in regards to the measures required to secure tools, building materials and other debris from falling from high distances and injuring workers or pedestrians below.
New York labor laws, particularly the Scaffold Law, specifically mandate that building owners and contractors take appropriate steps to protect workers and passersby from gravity-related dangers. One way this is done is with toeboards, or lips built on high altitude ledges which would prevent an object from falling and injuring somebody below. Other viable methods include overhead protections such as canopies or sidewalk sheds which are strong enough to withstand the force of a heavy falling object.
OSHA also has a set of their own regulations designed to prevent falling object accidents. When guardrails are required, the openings must be small enough to prevent any of the objects which are likely to fall from falling. When toeboards are required, they must be built to withstand at least 50 pounds of force and must be at least 3.5 inches tall.
Furthermore, there are specific regulations for bricklaying and roofing work. For roofing work, “materials and equipment must not be stored within 6 feet of a roof edge” unless guardrail systems are also built. In addition, any materials stacked near the edge of a roof must be stable and self-supporting so as not to topple over and injure anybody below.
When bricklaying work is being done, “no materials or equipment except masonry and mortar may be stored within 4 feet of working edges.” In the event that excess mortar, debris or other building materials begin to build up and litter a workspace, regular cleanings must occur to prevent small objects from raining down and injuring unsuspecting passersby below.
Injuries resulting from falling object injuries can be catastrophic and life-altering, specifically when they occur to the head, neck or back. If you have been injured in a falling object accident, you will want an experienced personal injury law firm to help you pursue justice and recover damages. Block O’Toole & Murphy has won millions of dollars for victims of falling object accidents including:
- $7,300,000 settlement for a demolition worker who had his right arm amputated after a column, which was supporting a 10,000 pound steel beam, fell on top of him
- $7,000,000 settlement after a carpenter was violently struck in the face by a 5 pound metal clamp which fell while he was dismantling a scaffold in Astoria, Queens
- $3,750,000 settlement for a Bronx man who suffered multiple left leg fractures after being struck by a 30-foot-long steel beam
- $3,500,000 settlement after a 31-year-old porter was struck by a piece of limestone cement that fell from the 10th story of an apartment building which was under construction
- $3,500,000 settlement for a carpenter who suffered ongoing headaches, cognitive deficits and depression as a result of a metal beam that fell during the erection of scaffolding
Please see our Construction Accident Results page to learn more.