NYC Construction Site Crane Accident Puts Increased Attention on the City’s Buiding Department Inspection System

In developments related to the March 16, 2008, crane accident in New York City, a city inspector has been charged with lying that he had checked on the construction crane when in fact he had not. The inspection was purportedly made in response to a complaint made by a retired contractor on March 4 because he had been concerned for days about the lack of braces securing the crane at a construction site.

The inspector, Edward Marquette, 46, was charged with falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison. It is not believed that the absence of the inspection caused the crane to fall.

In addition, New York City ordered broad changes to the way it inspects and regulates tower cranes. The Buildings Department said a city inspector will now have to be present every time a crane is erected, jumped or dismantled.

It also said it will require the project engineer who submitted the original permit application for a crane to produce a written protocol for each jump, including guidelines for how the work should be done. The engineer will have to inspect the crane to certify that it was built and assembled according to plans.

Further, the department said it will require the lead contractor to hold a safety meeting with workers involved before each jumping operation. A Buildings Department inspector must monitor that meeting.

Following the crane collapse, the NYC Buildings Department engaged in an emergency safety sweep of 30 tower cranes citywide, finding violations at three of 12 cranes inspected as of Tuesday, March 25. Stop-work orders were issued for two lower Manhattan cranes — at 200 Murray St. on March 19 and 123 Washington St. on March 20.

Work was halted at 246 Spring St. in SoHo, the site of the Trump hotel condominium project on March 20. A worker died in January of this year at the SoHo project.

Last week (3/25/08), in downtown Miami, Florida, two people were killed and four injured — one seriously — in a crane accident. The accident occurred at a downtown Miami high-rise condominium when workers tried to raise the crane section to extend the equipment’s reach. It fell 30 floors and smashed through the home’s Spanish-tiled roof that was the home of Cameron Diaz’s character in the movie “There’s Something About Mary.”

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