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Don’t take this lightweight metal lightly

Special Considerations for Cold-Formed Steel Construction.

A recent DOB notice doubled down on safety requirements for professionals working with cold-formed steel, in order to prevent collapse and injury.

Cold-formed steel is a highly adaptable material that is increasingly used in modern construction for stability and sustainability. It is lightweight, durable and produces lower emissions in its supply chain than many other building materials.

However, none of these benefits matter much if the material is improperly installed. One frequently-cited problem is that when steel platforms are overloaded or not well secured, they can collapse, causing worker injuries.

According to The Villager, in one 2017 incident two New York City construction workers fell through a platform due to such overload, and were trapped for hours before rescue.

More recently, in August 2019, one worker died and two were injured when the third floor of a planned 4-story building in the Bronx caved in after being overloaded with concrete blocks. In addition, a $25,000 penalty was issued to New York Major Construction for failure to secure a Brooklyn construction site after a cold-formed steel structure erected there collapsed.

In light of this, the DOB has instructed:

  • "Materials and equipment may only be placed on finished decking where directed by your supervisor. No placed load should exceed the capacity of the framing/decking.
  • Cranes (or similar) should not be allowed to deposit material or equipment on a deck without permission from the construction superintendent.
  • Do not remove bracing or shoring unless directed by your supervisor.
  • Do not go onto any section of deck that is being formed unless you are experienced with laying deck and have discussed the operation with the construction superintendent before beginning the work.
  • Your employer is required to provide fall protection. Do not go near any uncovered holes or unprotected edges unless you are wearing a harness and tied off to a lifeline.
  • Do not cut or drill through cold-formed steel, run all utilities through provided openings."

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