Crane Accident Raises Safety Concerns in Construction Industry


The collapse of a crane in New York City last week that killed one and injured four has raised a debate on safety requirements. The crane broke apart when handling rebar at a site where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building an extension of the No. 7 subway line beyond Times Square.

The accident is the city’s third fatal crane accident in four years and follows a series of scandals involving lax regulation in the industry. After the accidents, the city did a major overhaul of safety rules. However, the rig at the subway tunnel site was exempt from most city construction safety rules because it was working for an independent state authority.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the crane was due to be inspected this week by city buildings authorities  since its most recent inspection could not be completed because the rig was in operation at the time. The latest post-accident investigations into the accident reveal the possibility of operational defects.

“Our engineers have found defects in the hoisting system of the crane that failed, and as a result, the maintenance and operation of the crane in the days and weeks prior to this tragic accident has become the focus of our investigation,” Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said.

The MTA said it was weighing a proposal to place all of its construction activity under the authority of the city’s Buildings Department.

The city proposed adopting a national license and more stringent requirements for workers operating the huge cranes that swing across the skyline with loads up to 115 tons, according to the New York Times. Local 14 of the International Union of Operating Engineers opposes instituting the national licensing requirements, arguing that New York’s uniquely dense urban environment requires local experience and city-specific testing.

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