Building collapse in NYC kills one, injures other

A tragic demolition accident in Midtown Manhattan led to the death of one and injury of another.

A demolition project to make room for a luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan recently resulted in tragedy. The building that was to be carefully demolished unexpectedly collapsed, killing one worker and trapping another for three hours while emergency personal provided medical care and attempted to clear away debris trapping the worker, according to a report by The New York Times.

Work on the project was ordered to stop by an engineer who stated the five-story structure was unsecure just days before the accident. The piece states that it is unclear if the work taking place the day of the collapse was "an effort to shore up the structure" or part of continued demolition work regardless of the order. Various reports state that piles of debris, such as large amounts of brick, on floors throughout the building likely contributed to the collapse, which brought the building down in a "V" shape.

Demolition projects and New York law

New York has specific regulations and laws in place that are designed to protect workers and others near the demolition site from accidents like the one discussed above. These laws cover most aspects of the project. For example, all gas, electric, water, steam and other supply lines must be shut off prior to demolition. In addition, the service or utility company must be notified in writing at least 24 hours before work begins that involve these lines. If gas, electric or other supply lines are needed during demolition operations, New York State’s Department of Labor states that these lines must be either protected with substantial coverings or relocated to an area where the lines will be protected from damage.

The state statute also includes provisions requiring the employer examine walls of all buildings adjacent to the demolition project. It specifically requires an investigation of the thickness and method of support of these walls to better ensure they do not collapse during the project. If the walls are found to be faulty, proper measures must be taken to address the problem before the project can continue.

Additional regulations are in place at the city level, with New York City’s demolition operations regulated primarily by the Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection and Fire Department. Depending on the details of the project, these regulations can include use of an approved safety zone around the demolition area with fencing to prevent pedestrians and others from entering dangerous areas, approval of the demolition plan and conduction of special inspections.

It is also important to note that further protections are present for construction and other workers through standards implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Demolition project accidents

Whether a pedestrian passing by or a worker within a building, those who are injured in demolition projects may be eligible to receive compensation. This compensation can help cover the cost medical and rehabilitative expenses as well as lost wages. Victims of construction accidents should contact New York City personal injury lawyer Smiley & Smiley to discuss their legal options and help better ensure they receive the remedies they are entitled to.