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Construction & Design

Soho scaffolding collapse injures five, draws criticism from city councilman

City councilman Ben Kallos has criticized rules that allow scaffolding to slight city streets longterm after a shed collapsed in Soho on Sunday injuring five people.

“Scaffolding that is meant to protect residents should not be up long enough that it needs to be inspected over and over again year after year,ˮ said Kallos. “These structures are supposed to be temporary. We can do a better job at keeping New Yorkers safe by making sure building repairs are done as soon as possible and scaffolding are up for no longer than they have to be.ˮ

The accident happened shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday outside the 12-story office building at 568 Broadway, which is owned by a partnership of Aurora Capital Associates, A&H Acquisitions and Allied Partners.

No work was being done at the site at the time of the incident but several bystanders were injured by the collapse. Four of the five people tended to by New York City Fire Department officials were transported to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries, the fifth was released on the scene.

Department of Building records show that the Rock Group scaffold company based in Mount Vernon has a one-year scaffold permit issued on December 9, 2016, to erect a “heavy duty sidewalk shedˮ at the property. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The DOB had not received any complaints about the shed prior to the incident.

According to multiple reports, the scaffold collapse was caused by high winds that gusted over the city at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour over the weekend. The DOB is investigating the accident and looking at several factors, including weather, the construction of the scaffold and possible damage that may have been sustained after it was assembled.

The DOB had issued a wind warning to builders, contractors, crane operators, and property owners to secure their construction sites, buildings and equipment in anticipation of the blustery conditions.

In a statement issued Friday, the DOB said inspectors would be performing random spot-checks of construction sites around the city. By the Department of Building’s count, the city has 7,800 sidewalk sheds that account for nearly 300 miles of scaffolding throughout the five boroughs, more than half of which is in Manhattan.

Sidewalk sheds are required in front of construction sites, façade maintenance projects and buildings with unsafe façades, according to a statement from the DOB. A citywide sweep of all 7,800 sheds in 2016 revealed that only 2 percent were no longer necessary to safeguard the public.

During that sweep, 251 violations were issued and 20 sheds were deemed hazardous.

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