For the second time since demolition began in New York City this March to demolish a block of Midtown East office buildings, workers have been injured in falls when part of the building collapsed on them.
The latest demolition mishap occurred the morning of Friday, July 24; two employees of Waldorf Demolition were working on a scaffold on the second floor of the 22-story office building at 317 Madison Avenue, when parts of a collapsing ceiling knocked them to the floor about six feet below them.
Both workers were treated at Bellevue Hospital Center for injuries, described by a fire department spokesman as serious but not life-endangering and by a spokesman for the construction manager Tishman Construction as “minor.”
A spokesperson for the New York City’s Department of Buildings stated the department would investigate and that the demolition company would be fined for failure to protect workers against fall safety hazards.
The incident follows another fall accident on the same block. In that case, on the morning of April 7, four workers from Waldorf Demolition were injured at 331 Madison Avenue, as they were standing on a spiral staircase on the building’s mezzanine level, trying to remove a large, heavy chandelier in the ceiling by the building’s entrance. The demolition workers were reportedly bracing themselves against a heavy four-foot high marble staircase banister, which suddenly gave way, sending them to the ground floor about 15 feet below.
Just as in the latest accident, the city building officials issued citations for safety code violations.
Tishman Construction and Waldorf Demolition have each been cited in the past for violations of fall safety laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Tishman $7,000 in 2012 when agency inspectors found fall safety violations at a Tishman job site, and levied a $5,000 fine against Waldorf Demolition in 2010 for inadequate fall protection.
Falls, like these experienced by the demolition workers in both these incidents, are the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities for construction workers, responsible for about a third of all deaths in construction industry accidents, nearly half of all private-industry workers killed in falls are construction workers.