Saturday, March 1, 2008

City Will Inspect Scaffold Sites

The city is launching a scaffolding crackdown - inspecting 1,500 construction sites in the next month - following accidents that have killed two workers and rained down dangerous debris this past year.

Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said the city was "putting developers, contractors and workers on notice: scaffolds and sidewalk sheds must be up to code, or we will halt your work until you comply."

Nine inspectors will check out randomly selected sites in the five boroughs and issue stop-work orders to code violators, officials said. Violations that aren't corrected in 10 days could earn building owners and contractors fines.

"Recent incidents involving structural failure of supported scaffolds and sidewalk sheds have clearly demonstrated the need for additional measures to protect the safety of scaffold workers and all New Yorkers," Lancaster said.

She cited the Jan. 30 accident in which a worker plunged 13 stories to his death at 525 Clinton Ave. in Brooklyn and five incidents this month that were triggered by high winds.

In addition, the city will inspect lower-level scaffolds in the city, such as those on brownstones. Normally, scaffolding less than 40 feet in height is not inspected, officials said.

The city is also issuing a new rule requiring contractors who install scaffolds less than 40 feet high to notify the Buildings Department two days before work begins so that inspectors make sure that they are complying with the code.

There are 1,266 scaffolds higher than 40 feet in the city but thousands that are shorter. The exact number is unknown because the lower-level scaffolding doesn't require a permit.

The recent spate of accidents includes one on Dec. 17 when two brothers plunged 47 stories on East 66th Street after their window-washing scaffold gave way. One brother died but the other miraculously survived.

High winds were to blame Feb. 10 for accidents citywide. They knocked down a scaffold and scattered debris on Avenue B and Eighth Street in the East Village. Winds were also to blame in the collapse of a scaffold near East 12th Street and Avenue O in Midwood, Brooklyn, which brought down electric wires and crushed cars with debris.

The city is also investigating whether faulty scaffolding caused a concrete worker's fatal plunge at the Trump SoHo site this month. Officials said yesterday the city will also try to reduce the number of sidewalk sheds, the structures designed to protect pedestrians from falling debris - but which critics called advertising-packed eyesores.

The city inspects the fa├žades of apartment buildings every five years. But so many buildings face the same five-year deadline that owners rush to put up sheds for needed repair work at the same time.


  1. It is a great move in the right direction. But the question is what took the city so long.
    A non union worker gets killed on a high rise condo on 18th street and a the job keeps going on. Greed kills. The building trades have to keep on our so called friends in government to do their jobs. No excuse is acceptable.

  2. Brother you are so correct, we need a Watchdog base to make sure that this sort of thing is being policed correctly, ensuring that the powers above are doing what it takes to keep construction workers safe. As you know... Governor Spitzer recently passed a bill on misclassification, this bill would ensure violations on safety issues throughout the state, Including NYC... In your statement you say the builing trades have to do their part and call on friends in government to do their jobs. You are so correct...

    No excuse is acceptable !

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  3. The problem with the scaffolding is that thenon union have a strong hold onit and the organizing efforts are very relax on it

  4. "scaffolder" The non union is getting worst ever day. What part will you play in getting the work done that has to be done in organizing this work.
    The carpenter, the teamstere, the IUOE and the IUEC have to work together on this outside hoist/scaffold issue. Too long the union trades are fighthing each other for a smaller piece of the union pie. The non union pie is getting bigger by the minute.
    Go fine out who is working non union buy them a beer and give the names to your organizer. This will not be solved overnight. It will be a long fight, but one that has to be fought. Let your local politcans know that you are watching and waiting for them to save good union jobs. Those non union workers want a path to good union wages and benefits. Help them on the road.

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