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The Safety Violations in Construction's Most Iconic Photo

Article-The Safety Violations in Construction's Most Iconic Photo

Charles Clyde Ebbets/Bettmann Archive. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Lunch atop a Skyscraper from 1932
For most safety experts, “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” is cringe-inducing, though it also evokes feelings of pride.

Eleven men perch precariously on a metal beam, eating lunch, lighting cigarettes or drinking from glass bottles. Wearing only cloth caps as head protection, the men dwarf the hazy background of 1930s New York City and Central Park.

Much has changed since workers building the 66-story, 850-foot-tall Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan posed for “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” in 1932, but it remains construction’s most iconic photograph.

“It’s one of those things emotionally, you’re grateful and, and you honor and you respect the photograph, but by the same token as a safety professional, you look at it and you go, ‘Wow, let me just name the number of things that are wrong with this,’” said Greg Sizemore, vice president of workforce development safety health and environmental at Associated Builders and Contractors.

From the spot they’re sitting in, to the lack of proper footwear, personal protective equipment or fall protection, this photo is cringe-inducing, especially for safety experts, Sizemore said.

That said, Sizemore has a copy of the photo. So does Jim Goss, senior safety consultant with HCSS, based out of Sugar Land, Texas.

“That print says a lot. These people are comfortable in that setting, comfortable enough to be eating and drinking,” he said.

For more on this iconic photo, read the full article from Construction Dive, our sister publication.

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