Last month, seven people died when a crane collapsed in Manhattan, NY; two others died in Miami after a crane collapsed. The incidents have not only triggered modifications for crane safety in these cities, but in other cities across the country. With only 15 states and 6 cities currently requiring crane certification, these recent events have caused many to visit and revisit the proposal for city and state laws concerning the matter.
With few state regulations in place, the federal government oversees crane safety, largely through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). One requirement is having a “competent person” to inspect all crane equipment before use. Although few cities require some form of pre-operations inspection, this responsibility currently falls mostly to the employers, who have authority to designate a “competent person” to inspect cranes. Employers are also responsible to make sure all employees (crane operators) are “competent,” “qualified,” or “certified” to perform their tasks; however, there is no set regulation on specific training programs or certifications.
OSHA does recognize NCCCO certification as verification of meeting OSHA training requirements. The NCCCO is a private certifying organization for crane operation. The 15 states and 6 cities that require certification use NCCCO certification.
Miami-Dade County Ordinance
Taking effect March 28, three days after the March 25 accident, this is a local ordinance in the Miami-Dade County. The ordinance was proposed by Audrey Edmonson, County Commissioner of the Crane and Heavy Advisory Committee. The proposal requires trained experts to inspect all crane equipment, the certification of all crane operators, as well as a hurricane preparedness plan. This proposal will ultimately give inspectors and building officials authority to inspect and decide if the cranes safe enough to operate; they will also have authority to revoke or suspend building permits if the cranes fail to meet safety standards.
This ordinance also defines tower cranes as “permanent structures,” instead of “temporary structures.” This basically means that the cranes have to meet the same safety requirements as high rise buildings, which means there will be more requirements to meet.
Brooklyn Hearing Scheduled for Crane Regulations
On April 29 the City Council’s Housing and Building Committe will hold a hearing to discuss changes in construction site safety at high-rise sites. In light of the Manhattan accident, the participants’ main focus is to ensure that all sites are safe for all workers and the public who walk around the developments on a daily basis.
The Buildings Department also started inspecting all crane sites on March 20. New York City officials have also ordered that inspectors must be on site to raise or lower any cranes.
Other Cities Taking Action
The recent Miami and Manhattan accidents have caused other cities and states to consider modifying their crane operating safety procedures:
- Dallas, TX–officials are in the beginning stages of increasing crane safety
- Stamford, CT–Mayor Dannell Malloy has requested more frequent crane inspections
- Charlotte, NC–has reported 10 crane-related deaths since 1997, and has renewed concerns in crane safety after the Miami and Manhattan accidents.
- Denver, CO–Corkey Wassam, crane operator of 35 years and field representative for Winslow Crane Service, speaks out on crane safety.