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Two Workers Injured After Scaffold Collapse on Midtown High-Rise

By  Maya Shwayder and Wil Cruz | July 11, 2012 10:51am | Updated on July 11, 2012 4:18pm

One of two workers who were trapped on hanging scaffolding from 1177 Avenue of the Americas on July 11, 2012.
One of two workers who were trapped on hanging scaffolding from 1177 Avenue of the Americas on July 11, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Maya Shwayder

MIDTOWN — Two workers were injured after a window-washing rig hanging from a Sixth Avenue high-rise building collapsed Wednesday, officials said.

The unidentified men were working on the landing about 40 stories up at 1177 Avenue of the Americas, near West 46th Street, when a side of the rig came loose about 10:20 a.m., the FDNY said.

The workers hung on to the scaffold — which tilted at a 45-degree angle on the building — until rescuers arrived minutes later, fire officials said.

"It was straight when I got here. It was straight as an arrow," said Mike Michaels, 37, an elevator repairman working at a nearby building, referring to the scaffold. "I went in and got a soda, and when I came out it was crooked."

When emergency crews arrived, they cut through two panes of glass on the 43rd floor, wrapped a rope around the workers and pulled them in.

"I want to tell you that this operation went very smoothly," FDNY Chief Stephen Lincke said at a news conference outside the building.

The victims were rushed to Bellevue Hospital, the FDNY said.

One worker, a 68-year-old man, was taken to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition, officials said. The other victim, who is 40 years old, was transported to the same hospital, where he was stable.

The injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, officials said.

According to a spokeswoman for building landlord Silverstein Properties, the accident was caused by a mechanical failure in the rig's motor.

"The safety system in place worked," the spokeswoman said in an email. "Both men were properly harnessed and tied off.  The emergency brake on the system worked as intended, and building management immediately alerted emergency services."