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Safety Hazards Cited in NY Crane Collapse

Published February 26, 2013 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

City officials have charged a crane operator and contractor with failing to inspect their rig and make sure it was safe before it collapsed on a New York apartment tower and injured seven workers in early January.

The city’s Buildings Department has cited five safety violations linked to the January 9 collapse, which happened as the massive crane was trying to lift more than double its capacity.

The contractor, Cross Country LLC, and the individual who was operating the crane came under harshest fire. Each faces at least $64,000 in fines. The project’s developer and a site safety manager were cited with one violation apiece.

Safety statistics show that crane and scaffolding collapses are among the most frequent causes of construction injuries and deaths each year in New York State.

This is from CBS New York 2:

“Neither the crane operator nor his supervisors made sure the operation was being performed according to approved plans,” city Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said in a statement.

The collapse was the latest of several accidents that have stirred questions about crane safety in a high-rise city in recent years. Two deadly collapses in 2008 spurred reforms and even criminal charges, but another crane fell and killed a worker in the city just this past April, at a subway construction site largely exempt from city safety rules.

In other incidents, cranes have dropped loads or come close to falling apart, including a dramatic episode in which a crane’s arm, or boom, nearly snapped off during Superstorm Sandy and dangled precariously over a midtown Manhattan block.

The January 9 collapse occurred when a 170-foot-long boom fell onto the wooden framework of a 25-story building going up near the East River in Queens. There were no life-threatening injuries in that incident, but three workers had to be extricated from beneath debris and fallen machinery.

The crane was trying to lift 24,000 pounds – more than twice its limit – and the operator couldn’t see what was being lifted, buildings officials said. The operator was also attempting to move materials outside of an approved zone. His license was suspended earlier this month.

In 2008, a pair of fatal crane collapses came within two months of each other, killing a total of nine people. Those accidents prompted the resignation of the city’s buildings commissioner and sparked new workplace safety measures, including more inspectors, stricter licensing requirements and expanded inspection checklists.

Other common types of construction accidents are:

  • Worker falls
  • Electrocutions
  • Malfunctioning machines and equipment
  • Trenching and excavation accidents
  • Mechanical and chemical handling of compressed gas
  • Logging accidents
  • Welding, cutting and brazing injuries
  • Ladder injuries
  • Collapsed walls and work spaces.


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