Taking a Bite Out of Scaffold Risks in the Big Apple
Lighting and a clear, level path make for a safe public thoroughfare.
Most of us in the industry know that New York is the country’s most litigious state for construction claims and losses due to the Scaffold Law that was enacted in 1885—long before widespread worker protections were put in place. New York City (NYC) itself is known for having challenging construction regs due to the risks associated with working in the Big Apple. Those risks are only compounded when the project takes place in an area that has a high volume of public traffic.
An example of this high-risk scenario can be illustrated by a project undertaken by Rockledge Scaffold, a ProSight insured for several years.
Rockledge Scaffold has been a provider of scaffolding and sidewalk bridges in the NYC area since 1989. They’ve been involved with many high-profile projects, including expansion on the west side of Manhattan near the significant Hudson Yards development. Currently, they’re scaffolding a key building that abuts the popular High Line, which has created some unique challenges. The High Line, a 1.45-mile-long elevated greenway that runs along a former railroad track, attracts over 5 million visitors per year. With so many people passing over the High Line walkways, it’s a scenario rife with risk.
New York Mindset
The two specific challenges of this project are very Big Apple-based: (1) working in the midst of a high-traffic destination; and (2) NYC requirements regarding scaffold appearance. First, the building Rockledge Scaffold is working on is ON and OVER the High Line itself. This means they not only had to close off the project for the ensuing construction, they had to provide public access along the High Line walkway. This entailed building a scaffolding bridge that would protect passerby and allow construction overhead. Second, they had to ensure scaffolded sidewalks were protected and adequately highlighted for public safety. To meet the need, they built scaffolding that was plumb and level, freshly painted, and provided sufficient lighting for the millions of visitors who passed through. Since scaffolding can be in place for years, it’s important it is maintained and safe.
Looking up at the hoist system erected by Rockledge Scaffold.
A True Partnership
Rockledge Scaffold’s insurance/risk management program is overseen by Tres Whitlock, President of Allied Insurance Brokers. They came to us because they were looking for a proactive insurance company and agent that knew the ins and outs of NYC construction. True partners that could customize insurance coverages around the challenges of doing business in NYC. While many companies would shy away from the High Line project due to its scale and level of public traffic, ProSight stepped up. We provided the flexibility and risk management solutions that made Rockledge Scaffold feel secure in their insurance coverage, while Allied worked with them on QC and safety enhancements for their business. It’s truly been a three-way partnership with the goal of positioning Rockledge Scaffold for success at every level. “I have been very impressed with ProSight’s customer service, and I am a very happy client,” explains John Harrington, Controller for Rockledge Scaffold. “I look forward to working with ProSight in the years to come and consider this a great partnership.”
Rockledge Scaffold’s new anchoring system is designed to reduce water intrusion.
Forward into the Future
As development of Manhattan’s west side goes on, Rockledge Scaffold pivots to meet the needs and scale of their projects. They put a new hoist system in place that increases with height as the building gets higher. They also introduced an anchoring system that reduces water intrusion when the anchors are removed. As Rockledge Scaffold heads into the future, ProSight will be right there with them, helping to provide risk protection and support as NYC continues to move skyward.
—Jake Morin, Value Creation Executive
Jake Morin is responsible for ProSight’s Cranes, Scaffolding, and Luxury Home Builders niches and distribution partners. He has over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, with deep expertise in the New York market. Contact him for how he can help your construction business.