Sidewalk sheds are becoming increasingly dangerous

Written by
Abraham Jaros
Updated on Thursday, Oct 26, 2023

Sidewalk sheds are practically a staple of New York City. With so much construction that occurs on our buildings, construction workers try not to limit the amount of walking space too much by providing these tall structures on the sidewalks during their major projects. There are over 8,000 sheds and 330 total miles spread throughout the districts, making it rare to find a street that doesn’t have one at some point.

Unfortunately, improper maintenance makes these some of the most common construction accidents throughout the state. While it may not involve as much cranes and heavy equipment, New Yorkers should proceed under these roofs with caution, especially during an unpredictable season like winter.

Life-changing accident

You don’t need to go that far back to see the consequences of poor sidewalk shed maintenance. In November 2017, a collapsed sidewalk shed crushed a 34-year-old model in SoHo. She may have died had it not been for the assistance of a couple of people standing by. Like many other sidewalk shed incidents, the wind was cited as a contributing cause for the shed’s collapse.

Unfortunately, she didn’t make it out unscathed. The debris fractured her spine in five different places. As a result, her modeling career was over and she now has to live with a permanent disability. In an interview with ABC 7, she stated that she can’t even get in or out of the house by herself.

Will it change?

Nearly a year after their interview, ABC 7 investigated the status of New York sidewalk sheds and found that the situation wasn’t getting any better. There has been a 17 percent increase in shed production, resulting in an additional 30 miles of wood and metal hanging over New York pedestrians.

City Councilman Ben Kallos has introduced a bill to replace self-certification by scaffolding companies and instead have the Department of Buildings inspect them. He believes that if the person checking the structure isn’t the one who made it, then they will have a better chance of catching flaws in the infrastructure that need to be fixed immediately.

Some sidewalk sheds are left in the same place for decades. Construction workers need to be very considerate towards their scaffolding to avoid any more major incidents that have ruined the lives of many people. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury from these oversights, consider contacting an attorney that has experience with construction accident litigation.

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