Scaffold Deaths Move N.Y. City Officials to Push Safety Measures

February 9, 2007

An alarming number of accidents occurred on scaffolding suspended from the tops of skyscrapers in New York City last year, city officials said this week as they presented several measures intended to improve safety.

In 2006, there were 20 incidents on suspended scaffolding, which is not anchored on the ground, but hangs from the roof of a tall building by ropes or other adjustable means. Six workers were killed and five were injured in those cases, according to the Buildings Department. The previous year, there were 11 suspended scaffolding incidents.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his administration is forming a scaffold safety unit at the Buildings Department, made up of inspectors who will conduct sweeps and crack down on safety violations, such as failure to provide harnesses for workers.

“It’s dangerous working at great heights — there’s not a lot of room for error,” he said. “But we think that if we are careful and insist that workers use harnesses, we can make a very big dent in the tragedy that every year seems to befall the people who are making our city better.”

Through City Council legislation, the city is also aiming to nearly triple the penalties for violations, which could go from $500 to $1,250 in some cases.

The Bloomberg administration has also introduced legislation to strengthen enforcement powers over one type of scaffolding that uses a device known as a C-hook, which is currently unregulated. Although two other categories of scaffold hanging require notification before builders install them, the C-hook method does not.

Topics New York

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