The scaffolding collapse that killed three workers and seriously injured another in downtown Raleigh on Monday is a shocking reminder that the work of laborers that so many of us take for granted carries with it great dangers.
Raleigh is in the midst of a building and renovation boom downtown, with revitalization putting an almost entirely new face on the Capital City. But we don’t often think of the calloused hands that are shaping the city’s new face.
It is being transformed thanks to the laborers who do this work daily, climbing to great heights, doing a balancing act as they go about their craft.
In the late morning of Monday, based on the observations of those near the site of the 11-story Charter Square building on Fayetteville Street, a structure supporting the scaffolding system failed and fell into the parking lot of the performing arts center across Lenoir Street. The “mast climbers” used on the building are for the purpose of moving crews and material on external parts of a building. Monday was a day when the mast climbers were being dismantled.
A witness said, “It all just came down at once.” He said he looked out a window of the building and saw the scaffolding falling away.
Now the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Division will begin an investigation that will last weeks or months. Members of that staff will talk with witnesses and examine data to see whether rules such as weight limits were being followed and to make sure that the proper inspections had been done.
Some of the contractors involved, The News & Observer reported, had been subject to federal citations for safety violations over a number of years. But it is too early to reach any conclusions as to the reasons for the Raleigh tragedy.
This community will rally around the families of those killed and injured. They were men doing a job, earning a living for themselves and their loved ones. It is the families who deserve answers and explanations first, though they will find little comfort in them, no matter what they may be.