Take a stroll down almost any street in New York City and you’re bound to find one thing: Buildings covered in scaffolding. Scaffolding is supposed to go up when repairs need done on a building and come back down when the work is done. But scaffolding in NYC seems to go up and just sit there — usually for years.

Scaffolding and sidewalk sheds are supposed to protect pedestrians from crumbling facades and work debris, but they can become hazards in their own right — especially since there are about 300 miles of sidewalk sheds that aren’t ever removed. In fact, it’s not uncommon for scaffolding to sit around on a building for more than a decade. Take, for example, the scaffolding outside of the Department of Buildings: It’s been around since 2008.

Some building owners don’t want to take their scaffolding and sheds down when they just have to put them back up again in a couple of years for more work. Others put them up because it’s cheaper to build scaffolding and erect a shed than it is to do the repair work on an old building. Still other scaffolding sits around because there’s always more construction work going on than NYC has crews available.

Scaffolding and sidewalk sheds give the illusion of safety, but they can actually be quite dangerous. A dark, secluded sidewalk shed can become a haven for illicit activity and lead to assaults on unwary pedestrians. Old scaffolding can become unstable, making it a threat to the safety of anybody passing by.

Building owners should be held accountable for their negligence. If you’ve been injured in a scaffolding accident or your loved one was killed, find out more about your right to fair compensation.