Recommendations include increased accountability, updated technology, wind requirements, and training reform. On June 10, 2016, the Crane Safety Technical Working Group released a report with 23 recommendations regarding crane safety. The working group was formed by Mayor de Blasio and Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler following February’s crane collapse in Tribeca, which affected New York Law School.
The Technical Working Group’s independent review provides guidance on national and international best practices and recent technological advances that can be implemented to ensure that New York City continues to have the most robust crane regulations in the nation. The Working Group consulted with stakeholders across the construction industry and workforce as it crafted its recommendations.
The members of the technical working group are Mary C. Boyce, Dean of Engineering at The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University; Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, President of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and Dean of Engineering at New York University; Peter J. Madonia, Chief Operating Officer of the Rockefeller Foundation; Bill Goldstein, who most recently served as Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Recovery, Resiliency, and Infrastructure; and Wayne A. Crew, General Secretary of the National Academy of Construction.
Key Recommendations from the Crane Safety Technical Working Group:
Require the latest technology and phase out older cranes. Cranes operating in the City should be equipped with anemometers (devices that measure wind speeds), data-logging devices (black boxes), and GPS trackers to allow cranes to be more closely monitored. There should be an age limit on cranes operating in the City.
Increase industry accountability for crane operation. DOB should require contractors to have an on-site lift director who will be responsible for verifying compliance with city regulations and monitoring site-specific wind conditions during work – and ceasing operations, if necessary. In particular, the Working Group recommends that the lift director hold pre-shift meetings and inspections, as well as post-shift checks, similar to the sign-off process that occurs before passenger airplanes take off and after they land.
Set site-specific wind requirements at 30 mph. DOB should maintain its current rule restricting crane operation when winds exceed 30mph, but this restriction should be based on the on-site measurement of wind speeds, rather than through Citywide notices to cease crane operations. Crane configurations that must cease operation when winds are between 20 and 30 miles per hour should only be allowed in non-public areas, or if a safety plan is approved by the City. DOB should maintain its policy barring crane configurations with an out-of-service wind threshold at or below 20mph, unless the crane is located in a non-public area.
DOB should explore more flexible staffing arrangements to deal with surges in crane application volumes. DOB should evaluate the use of outside expertise to supplement DOB’s inspection team, as well as the use of DOB-approved third-party certifiers for comprehensive inspections, if needed.
Reform training and licensing requirements, including more crane-specific training for operating engineers. DOB should mandate that operators receive training on the operation of cranes with unusually long jib/boom combinations before they can operate such cranes. DOB should limit all hoisting machine operator (HMO) license operators from using long boom/jib configurations unless they receive a specific licensing endorsement, as determined by DOB, for such a configuration.
“The Working Group heard from all stakeholders and recommended a thoughtful set of commonsense crane-safety measures. I expect that DOB will take a close look at this report, take action on provisions the agency can implement on its own, and work with the Council on items that require legislation,” said Mayor de Blasio.
“These forward-looking recommendations could make New York’s crane regulations -already the strongest in the country- even more effective. I thank the Working Group for offering their time and expertise to make our City safer. In the coming days, my team and I will fully evaluate this report. The Group’s recommendations are solid, sensible, and doable,” said Buildings Commissioner Chandler.
“The recommendations by the Crane Safety Technical Working Group are a responsible effort to minimize harm for crane operators and the public. The crane collapse that took place earlier this year is evidence that these safety recommendations are needed and should be implemented as soon as possible. We cannot ignore safety just so we can keep up with the construction boom taking place in the City. I’m proud of the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee’s work with the administration to address this,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.
“New York has strong crane regulations, but DOB should continually seek best practices and innovations from other industries and cities. Cranes should be equipped to allow real-time monitoring of weather conditions and crane movements. This will help crane operators fulfill their responsibility to operate safely, and make it easier for DOB to enforce the rules through regular spot inspections,” said Peter Madonia.
This report does not contain the results of the ongoing investigation of the causes of the crane collapse, a review that is not expected to wrap up until the fall.
By: Brian Kaszuba (Brian is the CityLand Editor and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2004).