|New Yorkers have been safely keeping cool with the help of commercial-sized air conditioners ever since 1903, when the New York Stock Exchange building became one of the first buildings in the world to use air conditioning.
But on Sunday morning, one of these massive air conditioning systems put New Yorkers in danger when a crane dropped the 12-ton unit nearly 30 stories onto the Manhattan street, injuring 10 people in the process.
According to the New York Daily News, workers had been loading the air conditioning unit into a mechanical room at around 11 a.m. at 261 Madison Ave. when one of its rigging straps broke, dropping it onto the street below. As the air conditioner fell, it crashed into the building as well.
Five civilians, two construction workers, two New York Police Department personnel and one firefighter were injured during the incident. These individuals were all treated at Bellevue Hospital and NYU Langone Medical Center.
In a statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised the immediate launch of an investigation into the incident, noting how fortunate it was that no people were seriously harmed.
“Thank God this occured at this hour, on a weekend, when there were not many people around,” de Blasio said.
Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said the crane had been in good working order, and the snapping cable was likely the result of operator error or a mechanical flaw.
Luckily, those injured during the incident only faced minor injuries, and no criminality is suspected to be behind the event.
However, Sunday’s air conditioner mishap is far from an isolated case — which is what makes the event troubling. According to a recent New York Times report, construction-related fatalities are on the rise in New York City, with eight deaths already taking place this year. So far, 2015 is shaping up to be the deadliest construction year since 2008, which saw 19 lives claimed at construction sites.
If anything, this falling air conditioner should act as an impetus for the city’s construction firms to take a closer look at their safety protocol.