It’s Lunchtime, It’s Sunny, and It’s Raining Glass

As an attorney representing people injured in accidents, I have been told by adversaries who regularly represent building owners, general contractors and subcontractors that when they are walking on a sidewalk and are approaching a sidewalk bridge (commonly referred to as scaffolding), they always cross to the other side of the street in order to avoid walking under the sidewalk bridge. They are too familiar with what can and do go wrong.

This past Wednesday afternoon, October 17, 2007, provided a vivid example of why these attorneys feel the way they do. That afternoon, a bathtub-size steel bucket toppled from the roof of a skyscraper under construction in Midtown, banging along the side of the building, breaking windows, and trailing a shower of glass and metal as it crashed through the plywood roof of a sidewalk shed behind scaffolding 53 stories below. Eight people were injured.

The accident was the fourth time since January 1, 2006, that debris has fallen from the construction site, at 1111 Avenue of the Americas, at 42nd Street. One worker and one pedestrian were injured in the previous incidents.

According to the New York City Building Department, a total of seven construction workers had been injured on the site over the same period, and the department had issued several violations for falling debris. The department issued a stop-work order after the accident.

The construction manager is Tishman Construction Corporation, and the crane is operated by Century-Maxim Construction. The building, new headquarters of the Bank of America, is scheduled to open next year.

The crash brings to mind other construction accidents that have occurred during the Midtown construction boom. A huge scaffold buckled at the Cond Nast building in Times Square nine years ago, killing a woman when steel plunged through the roof of her hotel, and construction debris flew from the upper floors of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in 2004. For the year 2006, there were 101 reports of objects falling from construction sites in New York City.

This year, hammers, pieces of concrete, plywood and glass window panes have fallen from unfinished buildings. The law in New York, including the Labor Law and Industrial Code Regulations, provide protection for both construction workers and pedestrians injured during building construction, particularly for elevation related risks.

For more information about your rights, contact the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit. With offices in New York City and on Long Island, Levine & Slavit have been getting results for clients in cases pending in venues including Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens for 50 years spanning three generations.

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