Rise In Construction Fatalities In New York City Prompts Aggressive Action by OSHA

Beginning June 23, 2008, OSHA brought a dozen additional inspectors into New York City to conduct proactive inspections of high-rise construction sites, cranes, and other places, where fatalities and serious accidents have been occurring.

In January through June of this year, 20 employees died in construction-related accidents. Perhaps the most notorious incidents involved the 2 crane collapses, one on March 10 and the other on May 30, in which not only employees were killed, but also non-workers who were in the wrong place at the wrong time were killed or injured, to say nothing about the extensive property damage sustained.… Read the rest

Federal Laws and Regulations Underutilized to Protect Workers’ Safety at Construction Sites

The weakness of current federal laws dedicated to protecting workers safety has been criticized twice in less than a month on the op-ed page of The New York Times in the aftermath of crane collapses that occurred in Manhattan on March 15 and May 30, 2008. On May 27, 2008, David M. Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote an article pressing for giving the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the primary federal worker-safety law in the United States, more powerful, even criminal, enforcement penalties.

On June 12, 2008, Susan Podziba, a public policy mediator, … Read the rest

A New Fire Code and an Improved Building Code For New York City Effective July 1, 2008

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has signed legislation establishing a new Fire Code for the City of New York, effective July 1, 2008. It is the first comprehensive revision since the City’s Fire Code was adopted in 1913. The Fire Code, enforced by the Fire Department, governs emergency preparedness and planning and more specifically the permit and inspection process for the use of building safety systems such as sprinklers, fire detectors, and extinguishers.

The new fire code improves public and emergency responder safety by establishing new permit requirements, requiring more detailed fire and safety evacuation plans, requiring a fire safety program … Read the rest

Protest and Crane Dismantling Latest Developments Highlight Critical Importance of NYC’s Proposed Legislation To Increase Construction Site Safety

Families of the firefighters who died in last summer’s fire at the former Deutsche Bank building held a demonstration at the Manhattan site yesterday morning to call for construction site safety and reform throughout New York City. Meanwhile, a Kodiak crane owned by New York Crane at a Washington Street construction site is being dismantled after inspectors found two cracks in the turntable of the tower crane. Kodiak cranes owned by New York Crane were involved in fatal crane collapses that occurred on March 15, 2008, and May 30, 2008These developments and others make all the more … Read the rest

From Cranes to Window Washers to Trenches, Construction Accidents Roil New York City

It seems that troubling news regarding the construction industry and construction accidents in New York City are heard on a daily basis. 15 people in construction-related accidents have been killed in the city so far this year, compared with 12 in all of 2007. After the second of two recent crane collapses within 12 weeks of each other during which period the city held its 4th annual Construction Safety Week, a window into the world of New York City Buildings Department crane inspections and inspectors has been opened. Nine people, all but one of them construction workers, died in … Read the rest

Toughen the Federal Worker-Safety Law: Make It a Crime

Although it is certainly too early to cast blame, if any, for this past Friday’s fatal crane collapse on the East Side, with the Manhattan district attorneys office having opened a criminal investigation into the collapse, the death and injuries sustained in the accident is perhaps just the latest example of why the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the primary federal worker-safety law in the United States, is in need of more powerful enforcement penalties. So cogently argues David M. Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan, in a recent New York Times op-ed article.

About 6,000 workers … Read the rest

The Crane Brethren

Yesterday our office received a call from a client involved in the March 15, 2008, collapse of a crane at a construction project on East 51st Street in Manhattan. The news that another crane collapsed when the top of the crane on an East 91st Street construction site had snapped off, crashed into a building across the street and killed two construction workers had hit our client personally; he had received a telephone call from a crane operator that he knew from his work that identified the crane operator who died in the latest collapse as a friend of our … Read the rest

New York City Holds 4th Annual Construction Safety Week

Last week, April 28 – May 2, 2008, was New York Citys 4th annual Construction Safety Week, the purpose of which is to “advance safe construction practices. Seminars were offered in topics such as Scaffold Safety: Keeping Workers Safe on the Job, (held by the NYC Department of Buildings in conjunction with the Latin American Workers Project), Performing Safe Excavations, Safety First: Urban Demolition, Crane Safety: New Regulations You Must Know and Safe Concrete Operations, Design, Methods and Regulations.

The previous week saw Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster resign her position at the Department of Buildings. She admitted to … Read the rest

Construction Accidents: What’s Up With the Cranes?

Apparently it’s not sufficient that an inspector makes a phantom inspection of a Manhattan construction site crane that subsequently collapses, killing 7 people, injuring another 24 people, destroying a building, and causing untold other horrors.

An investigation by New York State’s inspector general has found that a Crane Operator Examining Board examiner issued more than 200 improper certificates to operators even though they had failed their practical exams. Examiner Frank Fazzio even improperly issued himself a crane certificate. He has been removed from the Crane Board.

The investigation was prompted by an allegation that certificates were being unfairly denied … Read the rest

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 … Read the rest