If you’re not from one of the five boroughs of New York City you may not be terribly familiar with sidewalk sheds; and if you are from New York City you may be all too familiar with them. Sidewalk sheds are designed to protect pedestrians and construction workers from personal injury at and around construction sites. According to the Department of Buildings, there are 8,000 sidewalk sheds across New York City. Recently, a number of sidewalk sheds have done more harm than good. New York City Council member, Ben Kallos, reported his office found seven different incidents where pedestrian injuries occurred since 2017.
Sidewalk sheds often collapse because they were not installed properly and/or inspections were not conducted properly. Ben Kallos proposed a Bill that will change the way sidewalk sheds are inspected in hopes of protecting pedestrians and preventing workplace injuries.
In Kallos’ proposed Bill, New York City agencies would conduct inspections every six months. Because property owners would have to pay for each inspection, supporters of the Bill hope more sidewalk sheds will be removed in a timely fashion. As of right now there isn’t much incentive to remove the sidewalk sheds as they are generally cheaper to keep up than take down. This leads to abandoned and old sheds, creating a dangerous situation for all those forced to walk under them.
In October of 2018, one of New York City’s oldest sidewalk sheds was taken down after 14 years in Harlem. Although there weren’t any reported injuries linked to the shed, residents claimed trash often accumulated on the roof of the shed and people would loiter around it.
Below is a first-hand account of what it’s like to sustain a sidewalk injury:
ABC NEWS: Trapped beneath a pile of steel and wood, a critically injured [woman] could have died had it not been for those who quickly rushed to dig her out from under a collapsed sidewalk shed in New York’s Soho neighborhood last November. “I just saw wood and metal flying at me,” she said. “That’s all I remember, and then I woke up in an ambulance.” Lefavre was 34, newly married, and a model for a top agency. Her spine had been fractured in five places, and in a matter of seconds, her life changed forever. Now, she is learning how to walk again and how to live with constant pain.
More than Pedestrians
Pedestrians aren’t the only ones at risk for serious injury when it comes to sidewalk sheds. The likelihood of a construction worker sustaining a catastrophic or even fatal injury due to a faulty sidewalk shed is extremely high. Recently, in Brooklyn three construction workers were injured after a sidewalk shed gave out on a job site. Their workplace injuries could have been prevented if the sidewalk shed was adequately inspected and up to safety standards.
Sidewalk sheds are meant to protect pedestrians from brain injuries, broken bones, lacerations, and other serious injuries, yet failure to properly construct or maintain a sidewalk shed puts pedestrians and construction workers at risk for serious injury and even death. The lawyers at Jacoby and Meyers are dedicated to making sure victims of sidewalk sheds injuries receive the justice they deserve.