When a ceiling collapse occurs in the United States, we usually notice that the residential injuries are kept to a minimum. According to the Commercial Observer, Queens has been seeing a record number of building permits in recent years.
In 2014, Queens issued 643 new building permits, which was a significant jump from 2013 when 593 new building permits were issued. With the other four boroughs also seeing a rise in residential construction, could NYC be setting itself up for a rash of dangerous ceiling collapses?
What Has Been Causing Ceiling Collapses?
Hensel Plastering points out that a lot of industry standards have changed with ceilings over the decades, and those changes may come full circle in the new houses being built in NYC. Between the 1930s and the 1950s, the industry standards for ceiling construction led to very durable ceilings. Back in those days, ceilings were made of large slabs of sheet rock covered by two layers of plaster. The joists were only 16 inches apart, and that led to a very strong ceiling.
But as the 1970s approached, construction changes helped to weaken ceiling designs, and ceilings started to collapse. Instead of sheetrock, construction standards changed to using two layers of drywall. To further weaken ceiling construction, joists were set at 24 instead of 16 inches. The 1980s saw the start of significant ceiling collapses, and the problems had only begun.
Persistent Problem Over The Years
A problem that existed over 30 years ago should have been addressed at this point, but the ceiling issue still occurs around the country. The fact that we can find instances of new construction failing is another reason why NYC residents will want to pay close attention to what happens with their ceilings.
According to CBS News, two construction workers were taken to the hospital when a ceiling in the building they were renovating fell on them. The incident occurred during the debris removal phase of a building renovation project.
The Gothamist reports that a ceiling collapsed in the midtown area in October 2015 killing one worker and injuring three others. Once again, these workers were engaged in a renovation project when the ceiling they were working under collapsed.
NYC Construction And The Ceiling Industry Standards
With the boom of residential construction going on throughout the urban areas of New York City, these ceiling standards could start to become a problem. Many of these new residential complexes are large, consisting of several floors of residents. While there are plenty of safety policies in place for multi-floor structures, what about the structures under construction?
In one incident a family that had only been living in a building for two years experienced a ceiling collapse due to rainfall that caused the ceiling to weaken. The father suggested that improper protection from the rain caused his ceiling to be weakened, and eventually led to the collapse. It is possible the wider joists and drywall construction of the ceiling contributed considerably to its collapse, and those same standards are being used in new residential construction all over New York City. To make matters worse, the rise in construction in NYC is causing problems with safety inspections. That could also contribute to potential ceiling issues for residents.
Lack Of Safety Inspections
According to the New York Times, construction deaths in New York City are up and one of the contributing factors is the lack of adequate inspection personnel from the city. With a lack of inspection personnel being partly blamed for more construction worker deaths, then it begs the question of what else construction companies are cutting corners on? When a construction company is willing to put its own workers at risk because of the costs of adequate safety, then what guarantees that all of the industry standard construction policies are being followed?
When a city like New York starts to experience a rise in construction, then that is usually perceived as a good thing. But when that rise in construction is accompanied by a rise in construction negligence, then that can cause problems. With ceiling collapses on the rise, the residents of New York City will want to be sure to report any problems with their ceilings to building management immediately.