Two New York scaffold workers have been rescued from the 46th floor of a skyscraper after their metal rigging bent in half, leaving them trapped for around 90 minutes.
Firefighters managed to cut open glass panels two floors below the twisted scaffolding, which was set up around the city’s Hearst Tower skyscraper, and drag the maintenance workers to safety.
The men escaped the terrifying incident unharmed, much to the relief of a large number of bystanders assembled below, and to television viewers watching the situation develop live on a 24-hour news channel.
The scaffold platform is designed to fold in the middle for easy transportation, but a locking mechanism is supposed to hold the rigging flat while it is in use. It is thought the locking mechanism had either broken or was not being used correctly at the time of the incident.
The two male workers, a 26-year-old from the Bronx and a 49-year-old from Brooklyn, remained calm throughout the ordeal, even managing to smile at a camera mounted on news helicopter that was hovering around the scene.
At one point one of the men was even spotted coolly chatting on a mobile phone as he dangled precariously 600 feet over Manhattan. Rather than drag the men up on to the building’s roof, firefighters opted to remove a four foot x four foot section of glass window two floors below the mangled platform. Firefighters had secured the pair to a safety rope long before they were lifted into the building, which Assistant Fire Chief William Seelig said meant they were at absolutely no risk of falling once rescuers arrived.
According to a recent report in New York Magazine, the window washing scaffolding system that operates around the Hearst Tower is one of the most complex in the city. Six wire ropes hold the rigging in place and a highly sensitive system of 67 electromechanical safety sensors and switches monitor potential issues. Following the incident, the rigging was raised to the top of the tower awaiting inspection by New York State’s Department of Labour. The Hearst Tower is the world headquarters of the Hearst Corporation and the first green high-rise office building in the city.