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Amid Vibration of UN Building, Emergency Exits Were Blocked, Staff Kept Working

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 19 – How seriously does the UN take the safety of its staff, for example those working in the rented Albano Building half a block from the UN compound in Manhattan? Not very.

UN staff tell Inner City Press that on Friday, February 15 vibrations from the demolition of a building next to the Albano were so bad that they were told that the emergency stairs on that side would not be used for any purpose -- including an emergency.

  Anywhere else in New York, this would mean sending the workers home, vacating the building. The law requires a secondary means of egress in case of fire or other emergency.

  But UN staff were made to keep working on the building on Friday. And even after the three day weekend, on Tuesday February 19, they were told that that stairway should only be used in case of a “serious emergency.”

  The vibrations, staff tell Inner City Press, also exclusively, continue. And it does not appear that the UN informed the New York City Buildings Department.

  The claim the UN makes is that its premises, including the floors it rented not only in Albano but also the so-called Innovation  Luggage Building on Second Avenue and 42 Street, for example, are international territory not subject to New York City or US laws. But what about safety?

  And what about the UN preaching about workers rights and conditions of labor all over the world?

  In one of a number of other recent stories about UN staff and safety, Inner City Press in writing about a slip and fall in the UN cafeteria with shorter and shorter hours wrote about the lack of X-Ray facilities in the UN after Hurricane Sandy. The UN wrote back to Inner City Press:

Subject: Your question on X rays
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 3:31 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

We can confirm that the UN's x-ray machine was seriously damaged in Hurricane Sandy. It will not be replaced.

Like all medical services around the World, the UN Medical Services Division has been progressively seeking to reduce the use of x-rays in situations where the medical literature indicates there is no requirement for them. This will also minimise the exposure of staff to ionizing radiation associated with x-ray imaging. X-ray use has now reduced so much that there is no longer a need for a full-time x-ray service in the UN building. The small number of x-rays that are still needed are now sourced from external providers.

   But nevertheless when a woman slipped on a negligently wet floor, she was taken to UN Medical Service - without any X-Ray. Watch this site.

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