In Taiwan, Look up when walking close to High Rises

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Plugin for AdSense.

Please go to the plugin admin page to
Paste your ad code OR
Suppress this ad slot.

February 17th, 1937, twelve construction workers fell to their deaths while attempting to remove scaffolding from underneath a platform on the Golden Gate Bridge. On the 26th of September, 2001, a 2 1/2-ton plywood-and-steel panel built to protect motorists from Bay Bridge retrofit work collapsed into the eastbound traffic, crushing a pickup truck and killing its driver. April 1st, 2002, cranes and scaffolding at a high-rise building crashed to the ground after an earthquake jolted Taiwan–killing five construction workers. These accidents illustrate the inherent risk in construction work involving large structures. There is usually a price to be paid in human terms for these awe-inspiring improvements

Case in point, approximately ten years ago during one of my visits to Taiwan a corner construction site for a high-rise condominium complex had started to go up. Well, not exactly going up but more of a dredging and excavation of an area where the foundation was to be poured. This was a plodding methodical churning of mud coupled with a sustained flush of a subterranean sewer until the surface area had clotted resulting in a hardened mass of goo just right for paving. This operation appeared to be taking forever and a day because each time I returned to Taiwan over the next couple of years the construction site seemed to be in the same condition as it was the last time I was there.

My next trip had a more lengthy in between time–I hadn’t been to Taiwan for nearly eight years. This trip revealed a marked improvement in the pace of construction, and for icing on the cake a new subway station had been added right next to the now fully developed high rise building. During these final phases of construction (mainly internal), a metal canopy had been constructed along with a large blue tarp enveloping most of the building’s lower floors to protect the pedestrian traffic below from inadvertent falling objects. When in Taiwan I am always mindful when walking by high rise buildings to look up. For whatever reason, I’ve always been on guard for a falling wrench or hammer or piece of scaffolding or even, God forbid, a falling body. Wincing with regret when I’ve forgotten to either look up or simply forgetting to use the overhanging roof of a building over a walkway.

There came a day when I was exiting the subway at the new station only to encounter a yellow taped off area and a transit cop directing me to an exit that would be taking me across the street. Hmm…what was this all about? As I made my way up the stairs and onto the street facing directly in front of the high rise building, I could see scaffolding that had fallen to the ground and more scaffolding perilously dangling from the building’s edifice. What I always feared had happened. The winds aloft swirled around this building breaking scaffolding loose from its moorings. I suspect the construction crew hadn’t anticipated this possible mishap (although I don’t understand why they wouldn’t) and somewhere someone hadn’t securely latched down the scaffolds.


Having seen my fears realized, I think I’ll take to wearing a hard hat as I traverse the sidewalks of Taiwan.

Share Button
Print Friendly

Filed under: Articles, Opinion

Post a comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *