NYC Department of Buildings to Share Information About Tower Cranes With Other Cities to Prevent Crane Accidents

Last year, there were two fatal tower crane crashes in New York City, as well as dozens of others throughout the country, including Houston, Las Vegas and Miami. In an effort to track equipment failures, manufacturers recalls, accidents and industry trends, the New York City Buildings Department recently announced an unprecedented partnership with the cities of Chicago and Philadelphia to share critical data on tower cranes erected within their borders.

At present, there are more than 50 active tower cranes in New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia. Under the information-sharing agreement, building officials will share information about the design … Read the rest

Ever Improving Safety Rules from the NYC Department of Buildings

The New York City Buildings Department and Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri recently announced a series of changes in the way high-risk construction will be regulated and carried out in New York City. These changes are based on 41 recommendations developed during the unprecedented $4 million study of crane, hoist, excavation, and concrete operations launched last year in response to an increase in construction accidents.

Crane & Hoist Operations
The recommendations related to crane operations and inspections are:

1. Tracking System for Critical Crane Parts. Establish procedures to track critical components of tower cranes, including but not limited to … Read the rest

Indictments and Repercussions Flowing From the Two Fatal Crane Collapses In New York City Earlier This Year

The safety of New Yorkers working at or living near construction sites has remained paramount following the crane collapses this past March and May that killed a total of 9 people. Stemming partly from corruption allegations that were first disclosed in the summer when the city’s acting chief crane inspector was arrested on charges of receiving bribes, the New York City Buildings Department announced on October 6, 2008, that it was overhauling its procedures on how the city issues licenses to some crane operators.

The city said that the written and practical tests for lower-level mobile crane operators licenses (called … Read the rest

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

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

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