The skyscraper, which is by definition a habitable building that is at least ten floors but is frequently much higher, is really an architectural marvel. The first skyscrapers were designed and built in the 1850s, made possible by other inventions such as the elevator and improvements made to steel and glass frames. Today, the tallest skyscraper on record is in Dubai and is a shocking 163 stories.
New York is certainly no stranger to this style of building. There are thousands of them in the city, the tallest of which is One World Trade Center, completed in 2014 with a total of 104 floors. It took years and thousands of workers to create this structure – workers who are very aware of the dangers that are associated with working at great heights. No one is immune to these dangers – even those who have years of experience as one family recently learned.
A Horrifying Fall
On September 15th, 2016, a 52-year-old architect and owner of Crowne Architectural Systems was on the 47th floor of a skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. He was there to take measurements for potential work to be done on the building. While the details still aren’t clear, what authorities do know is that he bent over to do the necessary measurements and when he went to get back up, he somehow lost his footing and fell over the side of the building.
His fall took him over the 18-inch safety barrier along the edge and down to the second-floor landing of the building next door.
The impact of the more than 40-story fall caused several external and internal trauma and he did not survive. Paramedics pronounced him dead on their arrival.
A Potential Safety Mistake
Any time that someone is killed on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Buildings performs an investigation to determine what the cause of the accident was and if any safety violations were made.
A witness has reported that the victim appeared to become dizzy when he stood up which could have caused him to fall over. What makes this story all the more tragic, however, is that investigators have already determined that he was, in fact, wearing a safety harness which could have stopped his fall – but it wasn’t tied off.
What Could Have Made Him Dizzy?
There are any number of reasons that the victim could have been dizzy. Disorientation from the height maybe have caused vertigo, he could have had an inner ear infection, blood pressure issues, or a number of other medical conditions.
The reality is that it doesn’t matter what caused the architect to be dizzy and fall. Safety standards should ensure that workers who fall are saved.
What Will Happen If Safety Standards Were Violated?
Despite the fact that the victim was a business owner himself, he was likely hired to do work by another party. Whoever was in charge of overseeing the job site is responsible for making sure that safety equipment is available and properly in use.
Fall protection systems are the most commonly used form of gear and in addition to this, OSHA has outlined numerous rules and regulations regarding the use of “access equipment”. This equipment is anything that allows a worker to safely work at a great height, such as scaffolding.
For example, regulations demand that scaffolding should:
- Be capable of carrying the intended maximum load without displacement.
- Should be capable of supporting four times the intended maximum weight.
- Have planking and platforms that are overlapped.
- Should be braced and connected by a line to secure structures to prevent swaying.
- Have guardrails that are no less than 36 inches high.
These are just a few of the hundreds of requirements that should be in place for just one system used in the construction of skyscrapers.
When the person or company responsible for making sure that ALL safety standards are in place fails to do so, they may face heavy fines, citations, could have their jobsite completely shut down, and may even face criminal charges.
State officials in New York have pushed for harsher punishments and increased safety on construction sites throughout the state over the past year. In fact, the Department of Buildings has hired an additional group of workers whose job it is to do random spot inspections of job sites.
In addition to being held accountable by the government, it is possible that, depending on the results of the investigation, the loved ones of the victim may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit.