Winter in New York can be incredibly beautiful. Shop decorations, mounds of snow icing the fabulous architecture of the city and bright lights can all make for a spectacular visual experience. Sadly, some of the very things that make the winter season beautiful and thrilling can also put citizens in danger of a severe, even fatal accident.
The accumulation of snow and ice on tall buildings poses a safety risk for everyone walking, biking or even driving in close proximity. A mild day with thawing temperatures, a high wind, or a minor increase in the weight of an icicle or snow drift could be enough to send it plummeting toward the ground. If someone happens to be underneath when it falls, this can cause devastating injuries.
People get hurt by falling ice and snow every winter
As long as there have been tall buildings, the risk of injury or death from falling accumulation has existed. Most people could avoid these dangers by quickly passing over the threshold into a building. These days, anyone who has to walk on a sidewalk is probably directly under a potential source of injury.
With the increase in development and growth in recent years, there's more risk than ever of falling ice. New construction and remodeling projects often have ornate facades, including ledges, buttresses or other architectural features inclined to gather ice and snow during the colder months.
Falling ice injuries can be quite serious
There are a host of injuries a person can sustain as the result of falling ice or snow from a building. These include traumatic brain injuries from blunt trauma to the head or getting shaken around, falls resulting in additional injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, facial lacerations and more. Sometimes, these kinds of incidents cause injuries so severe they prove fatal.
Other times, the injuries could lead to many days of incapacitation, loss of income and a lot of medical bills. In the case of spinal cord or head injuries, there's potential for lifelong disability as the direct result of a falling snow or ice incident.
Building owners and managers should protect nearby pedestrians
Those who own or manage buildings should take steps to maintain safe premises for the public. That includes preventing injuries due to falling snow or ice. Accumulation can be addressed by removal, changes in design that reduce the build-up or attempts to stop the fall before it reaches the sidewalk or street.
For many buildings, the last option is the most reasonable. You may find some sidewalks encased in scaffolding for as long as there is snow on the ground. The reason why is simple. The scaffolding will take the blow when ice or snow comes down from the roof or upper facade of the building, reducing the potential for injuries to people.