Two Workers Saved by FDNY After UWS Scaffold Collapse

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

A pair of construction workers are grateful to be alive after the scaffold they were working on collapsed, leaving them dangling 10 stories above the sidewalk on the Upper West Side. On Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at approximately 4:30 p.m., firefighters responded to a call for two workers at the corner of 78th and Broadway clinging for their lives. 

The unidentified man and woman were said to be holding onto their safety ropes for 5 to 10 minutes after the rigging snapped and their scaffold was upended, leaving one worker on the building ledge while the other was still on the broken rigging platform. Firefighters, including 17-year-veteran Andrew Dinkel, rappelled down the side of the building to the worker on the ledge, wrapping himself around the worker to bring him inside through a window. 

Both workers were reportedly able to walk to the ambulance that transported them and were treated for minor injuries. 

The Department of Buildings was on the scene trying to determine the cause of the accident. We are thankful that all parties involved were not seriously injured and for the brave men and women who risk their lives everyday responding to serious accidents like this.

Although it is still not clear what caused the scaffold to collapse, we do know that these types of accidents are not uncommon. According to the United States Department of Labor, approximately 2.3 million construction workers work on scaffolds, and 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents said the accident occurred because the planking or support collapsed, among other reasons. With building inspections occurring every five years due to Local Law 11, many buildings across New York City see scaffold work on a consistent basis. Local Law 11 is designed to protect future façade accidents from occurring by having workers inspect the outside of buildings more than six stories. This work is normally completed using a scaffold.

Worker falls, including falls from scaffolds, are one of the most common construction accidents and can occur for many reasons. Below are some of the most common causes:

  • Improperly assembled equipment
  • Equipment not attached to the supporting structure 
  • Overloaded scaffold
  • Unsafe weather conditions, including high winds or severe snow or rain

It is also important to know the steps to avoid serious injury at the work site. Below are some safety tips from the New York City Buildings site that workers must abide by while working on a scaffold:

  • Workers must wear a safety harness at all times
  • Workers must always be attached to an individual lifeline
  • Workers must take OSHA Scaffold training courses and receive a certificate of completion

The experienced attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have handled many cases involving construction accidents. In 2016 the firm attained 3 of the 5 highest construction settlements in New York State. Some of our results include:

  • $12,000,000 settlement for a worker who was injured on the Number 7 line subway project when he fell approximately 40 feet into a ventilation shaft, suffering severe orthopedic and neurologic injuries as well as fractures to both legs and his pelvis.
  • $7,000,000 settlement for a union carpenter who was dismantling a scaffold when he was struck in the face by a five-pound metal clamp that fell from a pipe being lowered by co-workers
  • $6,000,000 settlement for a union waterproofer who had to undergo cervical spine surgery after he fell through a gap in the scaffold he was working on

If you or someone you know was injured in a scaffolding accident, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free consultation, contact our experienced attorneys by calling 212-736-5300 or filling out our online contact form.


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