Construction Workers Just Wanna Have Lunch, And Catch A Tincaps Game

Crew Sacked For Week In Lunch Safety Lapse

In 1932, a man named Charles Ebbets took a photograph of 11 men perched on an I-beam 69 stories above the streets of New York, eating their lunch. Beneath their feet you can see the city’s skyline.

Today, 80 years later, the photo is still a sensation. If you’re afraid of heights, it still sends little ripples of pain up and down your body.

On Tuesday, The Journal Gazette ran a front page photograph of some construction workers doing something similar. It was a timid version of Ebbets’ classic photo, showing a handful of workers building the mixed-use Harrison project next to Parkview Field. They were dangling their legs over the edge of an I-beam that held up a floor, eating their lunch while they watched a TinCaps baseball game.

In front of the men was a cable that is meant to serve as the lower rung of a guardrail at the edge of the construction project.

As photos go it was nice, but unbeknownst to the photographer, it generated unintended consequences. Tuesday morning, the men in the photograph were suspended, off the job for a week, we’re told.

We spoke to Randy Vondron, superintendent for the construction site. He was reluctant to talk much and clearly a little upset.

Sitting with their legs dangling over the edge like that was a violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules, we were told.

According to OSHA, any time you are working more than 4 feet above-ground there must be a guardrail 4 feet high with a midrail to protect against falls.

The workers were on their own time, eating lunch, but they were on the construction site, and they were clearly in the wrong, Vondron said. Action had to be taken.

Vondron had no idea that it had even happened, until the photo appeared.

He said he was eating lunch in a trailer nearby. Had the workers been sitting on buckets behind the two cables that formed the guardrail they would have been perfectly all right. But they stuck their legs under the lower cable. Vondron’s worry is that the company could be fined by OSHA for a safety violation. The agency, he said, can take action based on a photograph.

OSHA confirmed that could happen, if they had a copy of the photo and it could be proved exactly where the photo was taken.

The photographer had no idea that the picture was of a possible OSHA violation. Then again, there were more than 5,000 other people in the stands watching, too.

-Journal Gazette


Categories: Harrison Square, Parkview Field, TinCaps

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