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Don't Forget, Window Washing Is a Lot Safer Than Driving a Taxi

Despite Wednesday's drama at Hearst Tower in New York, there's no major scaffolding crisis in the U.S.
relates to Don't Forget, Window Washing Is a Lot Safer Than Driving a Taxi
Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Some elevated scaffolding failed at New York's Hearst Tower Wednesday afternoon, resulting in two workers being left stranded, 40 stories up, for over an hour. So should we be worrying about the high-altitude workers who maintain the world's skyscrapers?

Not really, says Stefan Bright, the safety director for the International Window Cleaning Association. "It's pretty rare that anybody gets killed in one of these permanent platforms," Bright says. The full technical name of the type of platform that failed on the Hearst Tower is a "permanently installed powered platform," and of the 500 to 700 of them currently in use across the United States, a whopping 70 to 80 percent of them are in New York City. They're typically designed for buildings over 300 feet.