New York’s sidewalk sheds, scaffolding are an ubiquitous threat

Seeing scaffolding on the side of a building is often considered to be progress. Efforts to develop or redevelop property can benefit communities in a number of ways. However, a recent report shows that New York residents might be put at risk by thousands of long-term scaffolds and sidewalk sheds spread throughout the city.

The New York City Housing Authority disclosed that more than 40 miles of scaffolding occupy sidewalks as the result of residential renovation efforts. The problem is that thousands of these scaffolds and accompanying sheds have been kept up for several years and haven’t been maintained. As a result, there is serious potential for collapse-related accidents.

Residents of the buildings with the old sidewalk sheds have reported how unsafe they really are. Beyond becoming structurally unsound, sidewalk sheds have become unsanitary as the result of garbage dumping and rodent infestations in a number of cases.

City building inspectors have cited the housing authority for failure to maintain some of the dangerous properties. Reports say that officials from the housing authority have taken steps to tear down old, unsafe scaffolds and sheds. Still, dozens of precarious structures remain standing throughout the city. Ignoring the full extent of the problem, of course, doesn’t seem like a proactive or viable solution.

Property owners have an obligation to keep their property safe, particularly when maintenance and structural issues could wind up inflicting serious injuries. Ultimately, the hope is that housing officials step up to the plate and address the condition of their properties.

Source: New York Daily News, “NYC Housing Authority keeps thousands of dangerous scaffolds and sheds up for years,” Greg B. Smith, Feb. 9, 2014