Downtown Express photo by Jefferson Siegel
Contractors building the Goldman Sachs tower in Battery Park City put in new safety measures after a hammer fell off the building and hit a taxi last week.
New safety measures after Goldman hammer accident
By Julie Shapiro
Tishman Construction Corp. implemented a slew of new safety measures at the Goldman Sachs construction this week after a hammer fell 17 stories April 1 and shattered the back window of a taxi on Murray St.
But despite the new safety measures, John Livingston, president of Tishman, told Community Board 1 a week later that even the best plans give no guarantees.
“The safest thing you can do would be to avoid the site entirely,” he told C.B. 1’s Battery Park City Committee Tuesday night when they asked about the new plans.
No one was hurt in the latest accident, but it was the third serious one to happen at the Goldman site in the past year and a half.
The hammer fell in the morning of April 1, as children were walking to P.S. 89, when a carpenter with subcontractor Structure Tone was closing the gate of the exterior elevator, or hoist, at the 17th floor. As the bottom half of the gate rose, it caught the hammer in the worker’s tool belt and flipped it out. The hammer slipped into the 3-inch gap between the hoist and the building, and then ricocheted out into the street where it hit the cab.
“You couldn’t do it if you tried,” Livingston said.
The new safety measures, first announced at a meeting Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver held with the major players last Friday, include:
• 10 feet of additional netting at the bottom of the building to catch falling objects
• A yellow off-limit area at the entrance of the hoist
• A basket to store all tools on the hoist
• A $5,000 fine for any worker who touches the hoist gate, beside the hoist operator
Immediately after the accident, the Dept. of Buildings stopped all work on the site, but the D.O.B. allowed work to resume April 8 after Tishman implemented the safety measures.
“The standard of safety has to be absolute, and it has to work every moment of the day every day of the week,” Timur Galen, a managing director at Goldman, told the B.P.C. Committee Tuesday.
Linda Belfer, chairperson of the committee, said she was disconcerted that Goldman and Tishman are always talking about safety measures after accidents happen. It would be better, she said, to “try to avoid accidents rather than fixing [safety hazards] once they happen.”
Bill Love, a C.B. 1 member, asked about reports that construction workers on the site were laughing after the accident.
“That was just appalling,” Love said. “It made me wonder if the workers on the site are properly instructed and supervised.”
Livingston said he took that concern seriously and said he would fire any worker who made light of such hazards.
Downtown Little League players will begin using the B.P.C. ballfields, across the street from the Goldman site, later this week, and the season officially starts April 18. Mark Costello, director of the Little League, said Goldman and Tishman had been cooperative and their safety measures sound solid, but he would prefer that they not work while children are on the field.
Last spring, a sheet of steel flew off the Goldman construction and landed on the field while the Little League was playing, just yards from the nearest player. Afterwards, Goldman covered nearly all of the building in netting, but the small portions left exposed allowed the hammer to fall onto the street last week.
Jim Cavanaugh, president of the Battery Park City Authority, said he was very concerned about the accident but felt optimistic about the changes Tishman is making.
“I hope there’s not a fourth incident,” he told Downtown Express.