Two Confirmed Deaths in New York City Crane CollapseMay 30, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
The death toll of today's New York City crane collapse now stands at two, and at least one other person has been seriously injured. All three were construction workers at the site. According to MSNBC, the first fatality involved a worker who was in the cab of the crane when it fell, and the second construction worker died at the hospital. In addition, one pedestrian was treated for minor injuries.
The crane involved in the accident was perched atop the Azure, a building currently under construction at 91st Street and 1st Avenue on Manhattan's upper east side. The crane destroyed the penthouse and several other apartments at the Electra, an adjacent building. The tragedy occurred shortly after 8:00 a.m., at the height of rush hour.
Witnesses told CNN the cab and the arm of the crane crashed more than 20 stories to the ground, smashing the penthouse on a building across the street and gouging chunks out of balconies all the way to the ground.
According to MSNBC.com, neighbors near the construction site had made various complaints about cranes to the city recently, but inspectors found that most of them were "unwarranted". But inspectors did temporarily order one crane at the site to stop all work on April 23 for not having the proper permit and for operating the crane in an unsafe matter. Building Department records also said officials halted work after a crane on the site failed a "load test" on April 22. The crane passed a second test, however, the next day, and no violation was issued.
New York City has been beset by construction accidents recently, and this was the second crane collapse in two months. That tragedy occurred two miles south of today's accident on the east side of midtown Manhattan. The March crane collapse also destroyed a townhouse, and seriously damaged five other buildings. Six workers from the construction site, as well as a Florida woman visiting the city who was staying with a friend in the destroyed townhouse, were killed in the March incident.
Following the March New York City crane collapse, 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 followed complaints from residents about the site and led to the resignation of New York City Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster.
Despite the obvious danger posed by the construction cranes that dot the New York City skyline, the city Buildings Department revised its crane inspection rules just two days ago. The department nixed a requirement that a city inspector be present every time a construction crane is erected or made taller. Rather, inspectors will make spot checks of the crane raisings, known as jumps, and of safety meetings at which procedures for each jump must be laid out. The department kept a warning about nylon slings, saying they should be used during jumps only if the crane manufacturer recommends them, and then only with special padding to protect them from sharp edges on the crane pieces.
The New York Times reported that investigators looking into the March collapse have focused on nylon slings that broke during such a jump. The slings had been used to hold up a massive steel collar that was placed high up on the crane to help stabilize it.