Clinton to Foulke: Update Crane and Derrick Standard

June 3, 2008
In light of the recent surge of crane incidents in New York City this year, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., sent a letter to OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr., calling on the workplace safety and health agency to issue new safety standards for cranes and derricks, which she claimed were “long overdue.” She also questioned why the Bush administration has failed to update these regulations. 

“The city has already taken steps to address the problem but the Bush Administration must explain why it has failed to update the antiquated and outdated standards on crane and derrick safety so that we can stop additional tragedies like this one from occurring,” she wrote in her letter to Foulke.

A deadly crane collapse in the Upper East Side of Manhattan on May 30 was the second one this year in the city. The incident left two construction workers dead and one other seriously injured. In March, seven people were killed and 24 more were injured when a 300-foot-tall crane collapsed in New York City, demolishing a town house and an apartment building. A buildings inspector was subsequently arrested when it was reported that he falsified a record to show he visited the Manhattan construction site.

Deadly crane accidents have plagued not only New York City, but across the nation as well. On May 23, an 800-ton crane collapsed in Kansas City, killing one worker and injuring three others. During the same week, a crane operator was killed in Iowa when his crane tipped over and plunged through a bridge deck.

In total, there were 176 nationwide deaths due to crane accidents last year, an increase from 74 in 2000, Clinton said. For this reason, Clinton stressed it is necessary for OSHA to update its crane and derricks standards, which were written in 1971. Since then, crane technology has been updated considerably and new standards are needed to prevent workplace fatalities associated with cranes.

In addition, a 23-member industry and union OSHA advisory committee issued a recommendation in 2004 for OSHA to update its outdated standards on crane and derrick safety. The committee even proposed a revised standard, including specific rules on crane assembly. OSHA, however, has yet to promulgate a proposed rule.

“This delay is inexplicable and inexcusable,” Clinton emphasized in her letter to Foulke. “Casualties due to crane accidents are occurring at an alarming rate. Four years is more than enough time to issue standards designed to prevent more needless deaths and injuries.”

According to OSHA's most recent regulatory agenda, the agency is scheduled to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking in August 2008.

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