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Construction & Design

DOB investigating after Midtown crane accident

More details have emerged after a scary construction accident May 31 when a massive air conditioning unit fell 30 stories to the ground after snapping off of a crane that was hoisting it to the top of a midtown building.

The incident happened around 10:40 a.m. Sunday morning at 261 Madison Avenue, a 28-story Sapir Organization-owned building between 38th and 39th streets.  A construction crane at the site was in the process of lifting a 23,000 pound commercial air conditioning unit to the roof of the building when it fell, clipping the building as it plummeted to the ground.

Ten people were injured in the accident, the building’s façade sustained damage, and a small water main break occurred in front of the building.

“Thank God this incident occurred at an hour of the day, on a weekend where there not too many people around,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference following the accident. “There’s going to be a full investigation by Commissioner Chandler and the buildings department.”

Two construction workers and five pedestrians sustained minor injuries from the falling debris, and were treated at nearby hospitals, said the FDNY.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) said the investigation is still ongoing into what exactly caused the a/c unit to fall, and a full vacate order remains in place for 261 Madison Avenue.  Following the incident, the DOB constructed a sidewalk shed around the property in order to protect pedestrians from future construction work at the building.

The Department of Environmental Protection is in the process of repairing the water main break and assessing “the cause and scope of the damage,” according to a press release from the DOB.

The building at 261 Madison Avenue has had active construction permits since February, and there were no open complaints or violations for the site.

In addition to the investigation into the accident, the DOB will examine all open and active crane rigging by the company working at 261 Madison Avenue, as a precautionary measure.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 36 deaths in the construction industry in NYC attributed to work accidents in 2013, the same number that occurred in 2012. In comparison, the Los Angeles metropolitan area had 18 fatalities in the construction industry in 2013, and 13 the previous year, in 2012.


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