On July 16th, 2020, at approximately 4:20 p.m. one construction worker died and three others were hurt when a section of a 12-story building’s parapet – located on East 36th Street near Lexington Avenue in Murray Hill – fell from the top of the building on workers below. Specifically, two workers were on a movable platform – similar to rigs used for washing windows – while repairing the building’s façade near the 11th floor when the section of parapet came crashing down on them. In turn, the rig’s cables gave way causing it to fall 11 stories on workers standing on scaffold below. Two of the surviving victims suffered serious injuries while the third suffered minor injuries.
While an investigation is still pending, it is apparent that the scaffolding the workers were on lacked any overhead protection, in violation of the Industrial Code or 12 NYCRR 23, which provides regulation for all construction activity including the design and erection of scaffolding. Specifically, all scaffolding must be designed to include overhead protection where a scaffold is exposed to falling materials or objects that can fall from above onto workers on the scaffolding. A few notes:
1. Overhead protection is required when workers are working on upper floors or materials are hoisted above workers working on a scaffold.
2. Any planking used in overhead protection must be at least 2 inches thick or at least three-fourths inches thick if plywood is used.
3. Overhead planks must be laid tight and must extend the full length and width of the working platform.
4. Overhead protection must not be located more than 10 feet above the surface of the working platform.
5. Overhead protection cannot be used to support any person, material, tools, or equipment.
Here, despite the lack of an accident report, it is apparent that the scaffolding in this incident lacked proper overhead protection. Considering two workers were working on a moving platform above others on scaffolding, the scaffold should have been designed to include overhead protection that may have been able to catch the falling debris and material and may have prevented such a tragic result.
If you are aware of a scaffolding violation, always exercise extreme caution and notify the NYC DOB via 311 and/or 911 in case of emergency. You can also look up your building’s information with the NYC DOB here.
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About Camilo Burr
Camilo Burr is an Associate in Faruqi & Faruqi’s New York office and focuses his practice on employment law and wage and hour class action litigation.