A construction worker is lucky to be alive after a chunk of building façade came crashing down on the scaffold he was working on, causing it to give way and leaving him hanging onto a rope for dear life. The terrifying incident took place at a nursing home in the Olinville section of the Bronx, on the afternoon of Monday, October 26, 2020.
Workers were already on the site working to repair the façade when a large piece of the building fell 40 feet and slammed into a scaffold holding two workers, leaving one dangling from a rope four stories above the ground. The unidentified worker was holding onto the rope with one arm for 20 minutes as his coworkers rushed to rescue him. Thankfully, he was able to be pulled up and brought to safety, reportedly sustaining no serious injuries. We hope he recovers fully from this harrowing incident.
Shortly after the incident, the Department of Buildings arrived at the scene, implementing a stop work order and a safety violation.
Sadly, accidents like this are not uncommon. In fact, just this past month, we saw two construction workers in a similar situation when the scaffold they were working on collapsed, leaving them dangling for 40 minutes from an office building in lower Manhattan. Although the cause of that accident was not known, we do know that there are many factors which can lead to these types of accidents. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), some of the most common hazards associated with scaffold cases include:
- Falls from elevation, due to lack of fall protection
- Collapse of the scaffold because of overloading
- Being struck by building façade debris or work materials, including ropes and tools
- Electrocution from proximity of power lines
Monday’s accident in the Bronx was due to part of the building façade falling onto the scaffold. A façade is an exterior wall or face of a building. With over one million buildings in New York City, many of which are over 100 years old and poorly maintained, the risk of falling debris is extremely high.
According to a report published by the Department of Buildings, there are three major concerns when it comes to building façade materials: terra cotta, cavity walls, and glass. All three of these materials must be properly inspected and updated to ensure workers, as well as pedestrians, are not harmed by falling building material. That is why in 1980, after the death of a Barnard student who was struck in the head by falling debris from a building, Local Law 10 (later updated to Local Law 11) was created. The law requires buildings over six stories to undergo façade inspections every five years and submit façade reports to prevent future deaths from falling debris.
Scaffold work comes with great risk and can lead to serious accidents such as broken bones, brain injuries, and spinal fractures. It is important that both employers and employees know the risks involved and take the proper precautions, including inspections and trainings.
The construction accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have experience with scaffold-related injuries. Some of our most notable cases include:
- $7,000,000 settlement for a union worker who was struck in the face with a five-pound metal clamp after dismantling a scaffold, suffering facial and neck injuries which resulted in the need for a cervical spinal cord stimulator
- $6,000,000 settlement for a union waterproofer who fell from a scaffold after not being provided with any proper safety devices and suffered serious spinal injuries
- $5,885,000 jury verdict for an undocumented worker who suffered spinal injuries after falling from a ladder that was placed on a scaffold