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4 Workers Hurt in Partial Collapse Near Grand Central, FDNY Says

 The men were working on the mezzanine, left, when it gave way and sent them to the first floor, witnesses and officials said.
The men were working on the mezzanine, left, when it gave way and sent them to the first floor, witnesses and officials said.
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MANHATTAN — Four workers were hurt in a Madison Avenue building Tuesday while taking down a large light fixture above a spiral staircase, the building's landlord and witnesses said.

The workers were trying to remove a large chandelier above the entrance on the first floor of 331 Madison Ave., near East 43rd Street and Grand Central Terminal, at 10:09 a.m. and were using a 4-foot marble banister on the mezzanine floor to brace themselves when the banister collapsed, a spokesman for the Department of Buildings said. 

The men and the chandelier fell roughly 15 feet, officials said.

Three of the four workers were expected to be released from Bellevue Hospital Tuesday while the fourth remained in stable condition, said a spokeswoman for SL Green, the company that owns the building.

Witnesses said they heard a large boom at the demolition site.

"When I heard the noise, I got closer and the three men were just lying there," said a worker who saw the aftermath but asked not to be named. "Three were breathing. One was bleeding from the mouth."

Three of the workers, who were helping make way for a proposed 65-story high-rise called One Vanderbilt, were aligned in a row with white debris scattered around them, according to a photo another worker took.

"When they fell, a heavy marble banister came down also with them," said FDNY Battalion Chief Tom Meara. "Some of the materials they were [demolishing] appears to have fallen on them. There was a chandelier also above them that appears to have come down."

It wasn't clear if the light fixture, which weighed hundreds of pounds, struck the workers, Meara said.

"The workers had removed whatever debris that was on top of them and they were not trapped when we got there," Meara added.

The Department of Buildings issued a full stop work order after the collapse, a spokesman said. 

Three violations were also issued following the incident, one for failing to safeguard the site, one for failing to provide adequate fall protection and another one for failing to maintain adequate house keeping, the DOB spokesman said.

FDNY officials said the building was structurally sound.

The four men worked for Waldorf Demolition and their work was being overseen by Tishman Construction, according to SL Green's spokeswoman. A licensed site safety manager was also overseeing the process.

"Safety is our top priority; we're continuing to monitor the workers’ status and we will release information as soon as it's available," the spokeswoman added.

Both Waldorf Demolition and Tishman Construction were cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for breaching protocal concerning fall safety, records show. 

Tishman was fined $7,000 in 2012 when OSHA inspectors found one of their sites breached the safety codes that protect workers from falling.

Likewise, Waldorf Demolition was cited in 2010 for breaching the federal codes concerning "fall protections criteria and practices" and had to shell out $5,000.

OSHA deemed both violations serious.

Neither Waldorf or Tishman immediately returned requests for comment.

An investigation is ongoing, the DOB said.