Thursday, April 24, 2008

Construction Worker Hurt in Scaffold Fall at NYC Arts Center

NEW YORK (AP) — Only hours after the city announced plans to ratchet up scrutiny of construction dangers, a construction worker was seriously hurt in a 25-foot plunge off a scaffold at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, authorities said.

The worker fell off a platform in the famed arts complex Wednesday night and was taken to a hospital in serious condition, the Fire Department said. No update on his condition was immediately available early Thursday.

Authorities and construction managers were investigating what caused the fall. The worker had been certified to work on a scaffold and was wearing a safety harness, and the site's safety experts had followed their standard practice of meeting to discuss the work before it began, said Chris McFadden, a spokesman for construction manager Turner Construction Co.

It wasn't immediately clear what the worker was doing when he fell. The complex — home to the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic and the Juilliard School, among other arts organizations — is in the midst of a major overhaul involving several of its buildings.

"Those of us at Lincoln Center are sending him our thoughts and prayers tonight," Lincoln Center spokeswoman Betsy Vorce said of the worker, who she said was conscious when taken for treatment.

The man's fall came amid heightened attention to construction accidents, which have killed 13 people in the city so far this year — one more victim than in all of 2007. Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster resigned Tuesday after Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't satisfied with her agency.

Acting Commissioner Robert LiMandri on Wednesday ordered engineering experts to inspect construction sites and recommend changes he said would swiftly be put into effect.

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