NBC 4 New York
The failure of the window-washing machinery high atop Hearst Tower ended well Wednesday, when both workers on board were rescued by first responders. That wasn't the case in 2007, when a window washing accident sent two brothers on a 47-story free fall. The lone survivor filed suit against Tractel, one of the companies that maintained the scaffolding system. I-Team reporter Chris Glorioso reports on that incident and the possible connection to the latest scaffolding incident.
The two workers who were rescued from a collapsed scaffold atop the Hearst Tower Wednesday were not hurt, but a similar incident on the Upper East Side years earlier left one man dead and another with serious injuries.
In 2007, two window washers -- who were brothers -- were working on scaffolding alongside 265 E. 66th St. when the structure plummeted 47 stories to the pavement.
The surviving brother, 43-year-old Alcides Moreno, filed a lawsuit against Tractel, the company that helped maintain the Upper East Side window washing scaffold that fell. After that accident, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued Tractel three serious citations for improper installation of parts that supported the platform’s load.
Marketing literature published online shows Tractel is also the company that provided a window washing scaffold that looks identical to the one that failed Wednesday alongside the Hearst building.
Tractel "provided a unique façade maintenance unit” for the Hearst Headquarters, according to the product information.
Tractel personnel had not returned the I-Team’s phone message seeking comment at the time of this article's publication.
It is not clear if Tractel was responsible for installing or maintaining the window-washing mechanism atop the Hearst Tower. The two workers who became stranded were technicians for Tractel Harness, according to first responders.
The New York Department of Labor regulates window washing scaffolding mechanisms. In 2008, state labor regulators issued Tractel a notice of violation for failing to maintain the scaffold that collapsed at East 66th Street. The initial investigation found the hoist rope was attached to the scaffold with a faulty compression device.