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vp-scaffolding-bleh
Credit: Deena Elul

Two workers were stranded on top of the scaffolding that partially collapsed on the east side of Van Pelt Library Monday afternoon.

The workers, who are both contractors, were working on a facade maintenance project when a section of brick facade came loose and hit the scaffold, Facilities and Real Estate Services Executive Director of Design and Construction Mike Dausch said. The fire department was called to 34th and Walnut at 12:53 pm, and firefighters and Penn Police escorted the workers down a ladder, said Kathy Matheson, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Fire Department. 

Matheson said the workers declined transport to a hospital and were checked out by emergency medical services on site at 1:10 pm. 

Samantha Faublas, an employee at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania who witnessed the rescue, said the workers seemed “very calm” and “very still" as they were cut out of their harnesses and brought down using ladders.

Faublas added, “I think one of them look[ed] like he might have had an injury to his elbow."

Dausch said a structural engineer and the contractor’s safety director is now inspecting the facade. 

“There will likely be a temporary delay as the engineering analysis is completed and any associated additional precautionary measures are implemented, but that is not expected to delay the overall completion of the project,” Dausch said.

"Fortunately, there are no reported injuries at this time," said Kathleen Shields Anderson, director of operations and external affairs for the Penn's Division of Public Safety.

Faublas said she did not see the scaffolding break, but said she thought “it might have broken through the center.” 

She described one of the stranded workers hanging from his harness, though she said it was unclear if the second worker was strapped into his harness when she first arrived on the scene.

Assignments Editor Deena Elul contributed reporting. 

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