The incident took place on July 16, 2020. The scaffold suddenly collapsed at around 4:30 pm local time under unknown circumstances. As a result, one worker was reported dead and at least 3 more were injured.
The platform was utilized to facilitate facade restoration works at the roof of an 11-story building located in Murray Hill, a neighborhood situated on the east side of Manhattan.
A local doorman, working at a nearby building witnessed the structural failure. He describes the sound of the falling debris as similar to a car accident. When he walked outside to see that had happened, he witnessed a worker attached to a safety strap trapped below debris while other colleagues were trying to set him free. “He wasn’t really moving as they were trying to get the stuff away from him. I guess they were trying to unhitch him from the harness," he reported.
The causes of the failure have not been clarified yet but, fragments of a low wall along the roof of the building were found among the debris, indicating that probably the wall's failure triggered the total collapse of the scaffolding.
According to the New York Department of Buildings, a report had been issued in early 2019 concerning the facade of the structure which was found to be unsafe and needed repair works.
Moreover, the Department mentioned that the repair works were handled by Edras Group Corp., a company specialized in masonry restoration and structural repairs. The firm had been charged with 43 more violations in construction sites for safety reasons in the past decade but, they were all resolved. However, none of the violations were about the aforementioned building.
According to Benjamin Kallos, New York City Council Member, such failures are unacceptable. Mr. Kallos suggests that new safety laws regarding the thorough inspection and maintenance of buildings to avoid similar incidents, must be established. "My deepest sympathies to the families of those killed and injured in this latest collapse and they have my pledge to keep fighting so no one faces the same threat," his official statement, mentions.
The collapse came after another failure that occurred a few blocks away. An uninhabited building gave way into an adjacent construction site on the morning of the same day. No victims associated with the failure were reported while officials forced an evacuation of the nearby buildings as a precaution measure. The circumstances under which the vacant building collapsed are also under investigation by the NY Department of Buildings.