Steel Falls from Under-Construction NYC Tower into nearby Playground

By Adam Goldman | May 19, 2008

New York City stopped construction on an office tower near ground zero Saturday after a chunk of steel fell 18 stories onto a ballfield where dozens of children were playing, the second accident at the site in five months.

No one was hurt in the accident shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday at the future Goldman Sachs headquarters, the city Department of Buildings said. Builder Tishman Construction Corp. was cited with five violations.

The mishap came as the city cracks down on construction safety after a series of accidents. One killed seven people and helped lead to the department commissioner’s resignation.

Acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri called the most recent incident “unacceptable.”

Tishman Construction spokesman Richard Kielar declined to comment.

The Buildings Department said the 30-by-30 inch (3/4 by 3/4 meter) piece of steel fell from an outdoor construction elevator carrying materials to the 43-story building’s upper floors. The steel was being used as a bridge between the lift and the building for unloading materials.

The planned tower is expected to house 9,000 of the company’s employees when it opens, set for 2009. A Goldman spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

At the same site in December, a crane dropped seven tons of steel and seriously injured an architect in a trailer below. Tishman also was cited in that incident.

LiMandri took over last month after Commissioner Patricia Lancaster stepped down amid scrutiny of recent construction accidents. He vowed to get tough on safety and mentioned stop-work orders as a tool.

Thirteen people have died in construction accidents in the city this year, one more than last year’s total.

In the deadliest incident, a 20-story construction crane collapsed in midtown Manhattan on March 15, killing seven people and demolishing a brownstone.

Also earlier this year, a window washer was killed and his brother critically injured when a scaffold plummeted more than 40 stories off a building. Another worker was killed the same day in the Bronx after heavy equipment pinned him while he was digging a hole to lay pipe.

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