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Harvard Construction Lift Tips Into Adams House

A construction lift tipped over and collided with the wall of Adams House’s Randolph Hall.
A construction lift tipped over and collided with the wall of Adams House’s Randolph Hall. By Joey Huang
By Jackson C. Sennott, Crimson Staff Writer

Amid ongoing renovations, Adam House’s Randolph Hall, one of Harvard’s undergraduate residences, saw an unexpected addition last Friday morning when a construction lift tipped over and collided with its wall.

At around 11:30 a.m., Cambridge Fire and Inspectional Services, the Harvard University Police Department, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration responded to the incident, stabilizing the machine and safely removing the operator who was inside the lift when it tipped.

Workers were installing a street pole on the site of the ongoing Adams House Renewal Project when the lift, a construction Lull machine, tipped onto its left side and collided with the third story of the building.

Cambridge Police Department spokesperson Jeremy C. Warnick described the step-by-step process of safely removing the operator and securing the lift in an emailed statement to The Crimson.

First, “step chocks were used to stabilize the machine,” Warnick wrote, after which “a windshield was removed to allow the operator to exit.”

After the operator was removed, “another crane was utilized to rig the street pole to the ground safely and bring the Lull machine to a complete upright position,” he added.

To secure the area while the operator was rescued and the lift was righted, the main entrance to Russell Hall was temporarily closed and Plympton Street was blocked off. Pedestrian and vehicle traffic were rerouted for a short period.

The accident took place during the final weeks of construction at Randolph Hall, the second of three phases of the Adams House renovations. The incident will not delay the project, nor was damage significant to the newly renovated building.

A visual assessment of Randolph Hall following the collision indicated only minimal damage to a windowsill and cracking of a single brick.

The collision and response lasted three hours, with HUPD leaving the scene after Cambridge Fire at 2:50 p.m.

Though no one was harmed, the lift accident drew attention to occupational safety on construction sites at Harvard. According to OSHA, falls are the most common cause of death on construction sites, and construction work is among the most dangerous professions.

In 2018, for example, two construction workers sustained injuries when they fell from a structure being built for Harvard in Allston. Ten years earlier, a worker was rushed to the hospital after falling nearly 30 feet from a Harvard construction site in Cambridge.

In the recent incident, Harvard communicated with OSHA and Cambridge Fire as required by safety regulations throughout the incident.

“We are thankful that no one was injured and that there was only minimal disruption to the area,” wrote College spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo.

—Staff writer Jackson C. Sennott can be reached at

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