U.S. Cities Inspect Cranes After Fatal NYC Collapse

June 4, 2008
New York City's latest string of crane accidents prompted cities across the nation to closely examine their crane operations to prevent more crane-related tragedies from occurring in the future.

In Washington, D.C., the district's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) announced it immediately will begin conducting emergency inspections of all cranes. According to DCRA Director Linda Argo, approximately 40 cranes currently operate throughout the District.

Argo said that the most recent crane collapse in New York, which smashed onto a high-rise apartment building and killed two construction workers, is not likely to happen in Washington, D.C., due to the district's building height limits (no building can be more than 20 feet taller than the width of the street on which it sits). Even so, she cautioned it was better to be safe than sorry.

“We owe it to the residents and visitors of the district to ensure all cranes currently operating are safe,” she said.

In Boston, city officials said they plan to be even more vigilant about crane safety, with building inspectors already required to take a 10-hour course in scaffolding and hoist safety, according to the Boston Herald. The crane tragedy in New York is expected to give a boost to a year-old drive by Massachusetts regulators to toughen up licensing requirements for crane operators. The proposal would require operators to demonstrate every two years, in a field test, that they can safely operate the complex machinery, the paper said.

OSHA Responsible for Houston Crane Inspection

In Houston, the city isn't in charge of inspecting cranes. City inspectors check the cement platforms the cranes sit on, but it is federal OSHA that is in charge of inspecting the cranes themselves and the worksites they are on.

A regional spokesperson for the Department of Labor told the Houston Chronicle that OSHA conducts crane inspections at random, with sometimes more than a year passing without a review. No major incidents have occurred in Houston as of yet.

And in Florida, a bill aimed at setting statewide standards for crane operators failed to pass in early April. The bill was introduced after a 20-foot section of a crane fell 30 stories in Miami on March 25, killing two construction workers and injuring five others.

North Florida Associated Builders and Contractors supported the measure and fought hard to pass the legislation. The Association’s chairman, Gary Stout, said the accident in New York highlighted Florida's need for statewide regulation.

"Recently, accidents have happened during the erection and dismantling of these tower frames. So if we train the operators to be safer in this process, it’s going to make thing better for everyone," Stout said.

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