You know how construction firms use chutes to dispose of debris when they gut an upstairs floor of a building? I encountered such a chute in Ann Arbor yesterday. To my surprise, though, they hadn't blocked it off to keep someone from standing right under it. When I pointed this out to my friend Lou Rosenfeld, of course he rushed to ... stand right under it.
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I know, a pretty silly tale on a day when dozens died under the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. But there is a link: safety codes exist for a reason. In South Florida, new homes are required by code to be able to withstand hurricane winds. Katrina apparently killed 30 or more people in Biloxi when an apartment building collapsed. I wonder what the local codes require there?
Construction firms and workers often resent safety rules. Recently a commons area in a building in Lansing collapsed -- just fell into rubble -- on a sunny warm day. Thank God, it happened on a weekend, and the building was empty. If it had happened on a weekday, people would have died. The Lansing building inspectors declare that they won't let people occupy the repaired building until it's safe. But, ipso facto, they already let people occupy the building when it wasn't safe.
Ann Arbor, put some construction fence around that site. And Lou, don't hang out under that chute.