Six Iron Workers Trapped After Roof Collapse at Glendale, CA Movie Studio
Six construction workers were rescued recently after they became trapped by materials that collapsed at a movie studio under construction in Glendale, CA. According to Anita Shandi, deputy director of the Glendale Fire Department, the rescue began when firefighters at a station in the 1200 block of Glendale Avenue, “heard a loud noise,” and immediately responded.
Roof beams, or trusses, had collapsed at the construction site which is one building over from the fire station. The May 3rd accident trapped three construction workers in the rubble at ground level and three on cherry pickers. More than 100 firefighters from Glendale, Los Angeles, Burbank, Pasadena, and San Marino fire departments responded and helped with rescue efforts.
Of the three people trapped on the cherry pickers, one was rescued using a firetruck ladder while two others were hoisted off by a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter. All six workers were rescued within hours, and five of them were taken to a hospital for evaluation. None of the workers suffered major injuries, Shandi said.
The collapse comes during a time of strife in Hollywood as the 2023 Writers Guild Strike is in full swing. The accident is another example of the old Hollywood struggle between non-union and union and shows that it even affects the construction of the actual places that movies are made.
Cut Corners, Risk Lives
At the time of the collapse, 70 workers had been on the job site, however the victims in this incident were all iron workers. Josh Christensen, a labor rep with the Carpenters Union who has been monitoring the build tells BDN that the site was questionable from the start and that general contractor, Designing Building and Consulting (DBaC) hired a non-union crew.
"It is unfortunate that developers sometimes have to learn the hard way when it comes to responsible hiring practices. When you cut corners to save money, you're putting lives at risk. DBaC skimped and this was the outcome." Christensen said.
Non-union job sites have a history of being unsafe due to lax safety protocols, according to industry experts. A 2021 report published by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute surveyed the construction industry and analyzed publicly reported OSHA data which revealed that union worksites have a 19% lower likelihood of an OSHA violation and 34% fewer violations per OSHA inspection than non-union worksites. Despite representing only 14% of construction industry employees, union signatory employers account for just 5% of the industry's OSHA violations.
The collapse comes during a period of upheaval in Hollywood as the ongoing writers' strike has brought the town to a standstill. Christensen says, "The strike for better work conditions and pay for Union writers parallels what happens in construction and this accident is another example of the cost cutting measures that the entertainment industry is currently under fire for."
According to Christensen, the site is now in the process of being demolished. "Was it worth it in the end? I don't think so," he added.
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