Friday, January 25, 2008

Safety nets save lives

Two types of construction netting are required on projects rising at least six stories or 75 feet. Both are intended primarily to prevent tools, planks, pieces of concrete and other debris from falling to the street and threatening lives.

Safety Nets in City’s Skies Protect Workers and Passers-by. But Not Always.

The most visible nets are vertical mesh, usually bright orange, that the city requires builders to wrap around floors that are framed but not yet enclosed by exterior walls. At many construction sites, the netting has created giant towers that appear to be shrink-wrapped against the sky.

The other type of net is the one that saved the worker’s life in SoHo. The law requires horizontal nets that protrude 10 feet around the perimeter of construction sites no more than two floors beneath a floor where concrete is being poured into forms, generally at the top floors. The netting must be raised as the building rises.

Building code violations involving safety nets soared, to 58 in 2007 from 38 in 2006, the department said. In October, a steel bucket tumbled 53 stories off the Bank of America tower being built near Bryant Park, sending shards of glass and twisted metal to the sidewalk. In 2006, a three-foot-long pipe fell from The New York Times Building, which was then under construction on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets, and landed on a vehicle. A family of three narrowly escaped injury.

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