MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Two construction workers had some scary moments on the job on Friday morning after part of their scaffolding collapsed at a construction site.
It happened at Three Island Avenue near the Venetian Causeway around 10:00 a.m.
Video from Chopper 4 showed the two men perched precariously while tethered to the building.
Miami Beach Fire Rescue was called out and successfully rescued both men in about an hour using a special operations team.
CBS4 also spoke with one of the construction workers who was on the site.
“There was some mechanism that failed that caused it to tip over and thank God the firefighters showed up. We were all calm and all a little nervous,” Epefano Ramirez said.
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“We sent down two harnesses, each construction worker tied into their harnesses, in addition to ours. We set up an aerial truck with a group of another special ops team on it and we brought down the two construction workers,” explained Miami Beach Fire Rescue Chief Digna Abello. “No medical injuries and they both denied care or anything like that.”
“Those guys were really, I mean I thought they were gonna go down, but then it stopped and they were hanging on and that’s it,” explained witness Jim Clearwater.
Clearwater took a video on his phone and told his wife to call 911.
“I noticed the side of the scaffolding going down and they were together. And I said ‘Oh my God’. I told my wife something terrible is going on and I told my wife to call the police. Luckily it stabilized. They were afraid and they were hanging on,” he told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench
Another witness Chris Nace took photos that he also shared with CBS4 and said “We heard yelling and we went outside to see what was going on It liked the rig on one side had given way. It was cockeyed and two guys were on it who were holding on and calling for help. It looked like they were strapped in with safety harnesses. It seemed like that and so I felt better about it. During the rescue, I saw how they climbed up over the basket and the men went inside it.”
Chief Abella said it was gratifying that the rescue operation went so smoothly and everyone was safe.
Clearwater echoed the same sentiments but said watching the risky rescue was nerve racking.
On Friday afternoon, the president of Coast to Coast General Contractors, Inc., Yanieve Levi issued the following statement:
“While performing exterior renovations on a Miami Beach building, two employees of Coast to Coast General Contractors experienced an equipment malfunction which resulted in the employees being unable to descend to the ground until a fire department lift was provided. Thankfully, neither employee was injured, and after being checked by medical personnel they will be cleared to return to work.
All workplace accidents are serious and we, along with all safety authorities are investigating the incident. Safety harnesses, personal protective gear and extensive safety training helped ensure this incident did not become a tragedy.
Initial reviews reveal one of two lift motor seized, leaving the lift occupants suspended at an angle for a time. Normally both lift motors are synchronized and if one fails as in this case, the other motor stops immediately. Why that did not happen in this case is being investigated. All similar equipment has been placed out of service until a full inspection and review can be performed by our safety crew and the equipment supplier/manufacturer. Our deepest thanks go out to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department who were on hand assisting to make sure no injuries occurred.”