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New York City Construction Crane Rules Provoke Industry Anger

Sep 22, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

New York City has implemented new construction crane regulations aimed at preventing the types of crane collapse accidents that have killed nine people so far this year.  But the city's construction contractors aren't happy, and say the new regulations - which are effective immediately - will result in temporary layoffs of construction workers.  

The new rules come in the wake of two horrible crane accidents that occurred this past spring.  The most recent collapse occurred in May, when a 200 foot crane perched atop a high-rise under construction collapsed and fell about 30 stories to the ground below. In addition to the two fatalities, a third worker was seriously injured.  A large portion of an adjacent high-rise apartment building was destroyed as well.  The investigation into that crane collapse is said to be focusing on a rebuilt part that may have failed. The Manhattan District Attorneys’ office has also launched a criminal probe into the incident.

Seven other people were killed because of a crane collapse that occurred in March, just a couple of miles south of May’s tragedy.  Following that incident, a city inspector - who allegedly had lied about inspecting the doomed crane in the weeks before the collapse - was arrested for falsifying records. The March crane collapse also led to the resignation of New York City Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster.

The new rules cover the approval of permits to raise a tower crane. According to The New York Times, the regulations require that engineers or crane manufacturers provide detailed rigging plans for raising a crane, and certify the actual work, which is now done by licensed master riggers under a plan approved by a professional engineer. The rigging plan would include a detailed outline of how sections of a crane are raised at a construction site as work proceeds higher and higher.

Representatives for the construction industry told The New York Times that the new rules took them by surprise, and were implemented without any industry consultation.   Louis Coletti, head of the Building Trades Employers Association, which represents 1,700 steel and concrete workers, said in an interview that implementing the new rules immediately is "unrealistic".

At least 1,000 workers may be off the job next week because contractors won't have approval to hoist cranes this weekend, Coletti said.  Other construction industry officials told The New York Times that the new rules could cause 2,400 union laborers to be laid off at least  temporarily.


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