Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Posted in Crane Accidents

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Gotham residential construction siteIn June 2018 two construction workers were seriously injured in a mini crane accident in New York because of the negligence of their supervisors. These supervisors were indicted last week for their reckless behavior. They face second degree assault and reckless endangerment.

The accident occurred on June 25th at a Harlem construction site located on East 126th Street near Lexington Avenue. Workers hired by Western Waterproofing were installing a facade for a building made of stainless steel and giant glass panels. To help them install the panels, 41 year old Timothy Braico, a senior branch manager, rented a mini crane that was installed on the fourth floor of the building. None of the workers in the team had proper training to use the crane and no one knew how to proprely set it up. After the crane was installed without an approved DOB engineering plan specifying crane use and tethering, the site supervisor, 39 year old Terrence Edwards, ordered an untrained iron-worker to operate the crane.  The crane maximum load was 880 pounds. As workers were hoisting a 1500-pound glass panel onto the facade of the building, the crane toppled and crashed to the ground.  39 year old Christopher Jackson, was ejected in the air and fell 3-story to the ground. He suffered traumatic brain injury that affected his capacity to talk and walk.  Another worker, 37 year old Jorge Delgado was struck in the back and suffered severe spinal injury that affected his mobility.

In New York, construction sites using mini cranes have to follow specific procedures in order to legally use them. A permit application that includes detailed plans as well as the proof that the contractor hired a certified operator and certified rigging crew must be submitted to the DOB in order to use a mini crane.

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OSHA logoTo better protect construction workers from dangerous crane accidents, OSHA recently released a final rule on crane operator certification requirements.  The new rule makes employers responsible for the training and evaluation of their crane operators. Employers are also responsible for documenting the successful completion of the evaluations. Crane operators need to be certified and licensed to work on a construction site and must receive ongoing training if they need to use new equipment.  While the previous 2010 rule on crane operators required operators to be certified on lifting capacity, the new rule indicates that operators can now be certified based on the crane’s type and capacity, or type only.

The final rule will become effective on December 9th 2018 however employers will have until February 7 2019 to comply with the evaluation and documentation requirements.

Read the OSHA press release 

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Crane in New YorkCrane accidents can have dramatic consequences and one way to prevent such accidents is to make sure crane operators are proprely trained and certified.  So far, operators of cranes and derricks have been receiving different levels of certification based on the rated operating capacity (ROC) of the machine they are operating. However  after multiple complaints from the construction industry  that the ROC was not a suitable indicator of a crane operator skills and experience, OSHA just released a new rule that removes the ROC-based certification requirements but instead put the responsibility of making sure that the crane operator is qualified in the hands of the employer. The proposed rule change “requires that every employer evaluate an employee first as an operator-in-training before permitting him or her to operate equipment without oversight.”

With this new rule, every newly hired crane operator would have to be proprely evaluated by his new employer before he is allowed to operate the crane. Therefore on their first days of work with a new employer, crane operators would be considered trainees and would be tested on their competency and skills.

Among others employers will have to make sure  newly hired crane operators know how to inspect the equipment, how to rig and to level the crane . Employers will have to test crane operators  on their judgement about wind speed and  other environmental factors.  They also will have to make sure that new crane operators know how to hoist loads of irregular size and weight, that they are familiar with personnel hoisting, that they can perform multiple crane lifts and that they are able to hoist blind picks. Additionally employers will have to test operators on their capacity of operating the crane in special conditions such as  tight space, near power lines or from a barge.

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New-York-Construction-Site-1-e1523363525354More than two years ago,  our client Rebecca Wichs lost her husband in a crane accident in downtown Manhattan. David Wichs was crossing the street when he was fatally struck by a collapsing crane.  That day, despite heavy snow and winds, the City didn’t order crane operators to lower and secure their cranes.  Now when the winds are above 30 mph, all crane operators in New York City are required by law to stop their operations. Last Wednesday, as winds were unusually strong, the DOB made surprise crane inspections all around the city.

All big cranes installed in the five boroughs are now required to be equipped with an operating wind measuring device.  When the device indicates that winds are above 30 mph, operators are required by law to cease all operations.  If they don’t, they can face up to a $25,000 personal fine for violation.

It is difficult for the only 12 DOB crane inspectors to be able to check the 300 cranes installed across New York City but when it is necessary, the DOB brings in additional inspectors from other parts of the agency. Despite the limited number of resources the DOB has increased the number of violations for unsafe crane operations over the recent years. They went from 4000 five years ago to 8000 last year. The DOB also indicates that since the 2016 accident, crane operators don’t usually take risks when the weather turns bad.

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Crane in New YorkTo reduce the number of crane accidents, OSHA has been working on a new rule that would require crane operators to be certified. The certification requirement was supposed to come into effect on November 10th 2017. However one day before, on November 9th, OSHA published a Final Rule postponing this requirement for an additional year. The  Final Rule indicates that “OSHA is delaying its deadline for employers to ensure that crane operators are certified by one year until November 10, 2018. OSHA is also extending its employer duty to ensure that crane operators are competent to operate a crane safely for

the same one-year period.”

This is the second time that OSHA postponed this rule since 2014. OSHA indicated that it still needs to address the two following concerns:

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crane in New yorkDespite multiple past crane accidents that have proven that crane operators needed to be trained and certified, OSHA one more time wants to delay the effective date of its new crane operator requirement. The original planned date was in 2014.  This extension follows President Trump’s directive that all federal agencies re-review pending regulations. At a time when the construction industry is booming the number of cranes in use is at his highest and so is the risk of accident. Continuing to delay this rule is putting construction workers and the public at higher risk of accidents especially in New York City which is one of the cities with the highest number of cranes in activity.

The City of  New York however didn’t wait for OSHA to strengthen crane rules. After 38 year old David Wichs was killed in a crane collapse in downtown Manhattan, the city requested a mandatory suspension of crane operations when wind gusts record 30 mph and above. A study was also commissioned and some of the recommendations included the requirement to use modern cranes with anemometers, black boxes and GPS. Our New York Crane Accident Lawyer Howard Hershenhorn represents the widow of David Wichs.

Picture: courtesy of Pixabay

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A crane operator and a construction worker were killed Tuesday when a 6,500-pound beam came crashing down at a Queens construction site, authorities said. A preliminary investigation determined that the incident, which took place shortly after 12 p.m. in the Briarwood neighborhood, was the result of a “material failure” with the crane, said Rick Chandler, commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings. The rigging system used to hoist the beam snapped, causing it to fall four stories, he said. It appears that the cause was a failure of the Crane’s rigging system. There have been a number of Crane Accidents at New York City Construction Sites this year. Our Crane Accident Lawyers are representing victims in several of these accidents. See prior blog. Read more in New York Times.

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Three_World_Trade_Center_-_2015_renderThankfully nobody was injured in a New York crane accident last Thursday. Construction workers at the WTC site were pulling the unloaded line and hook of a crane standing on the top of a building under construction when the accident happened. The workers had been instructed to do so as a safety measure before a coming storm. A gust of wind sent a weighted ball attached to the crane’s line into a glass panel of the 3 World Trade Center building. Nobody was injured as the accident happened in the restricted perimeter of the WTC construction site.  John Gallager, the spokesman for  Tishman Construction said in a statement to the press that the glass window would be replaced and that the accident was being investigated.Read more in CBS New York

Wind and storms have been the cause of many crane accidents in New York City. Last February, David Wichs, who’s family is represented by our NYC crane accident attorney Howard  Hershenhorn, lost his life after the wind caused a giant crane to collapse on him. After the accident the city immediately increased mandatory safety measures for crane operators and created a special team to work on additional measures to prevent such accidents.

Picture: rendering of 3 World Trade Center courtesy of Wikipedia

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Tappan_Zee_Bridge_tower_construction_NY14 people were injured in a crane accident in New York. A giant crane collapsed  on Tuesday around noon on the Tappan Zee bridge landing on the 8 lanes of the highway (see video). It is a miracle that no vehicle were struck by the crane and nobody was killed in the accident said New York Governor Cuomo in a press conference in Tarrytown, NY.  Only 3 motorists trying to avoid the falling crane and a construction worker were treated for minor injuries. Witnesses said they saw the crane operating normally and all of sudden falling sideways on the highway blocking the traffic in both ways for the whole afternoon.

28 cranes like this one are operating on the Tappan Zee Bridge construction site which is the largest infrastructure project in the US. The crane was a new MLC 300 manufactured by Manitowoc Cranes with a 256 feet long boom. At the time of the accident, construction workers were using a vibratory hammer to install pilings, a routine task that is not considered dangerous or challenging.

Officials are investigating the cause of the collapse. They said the wind wasn’t an issue. The operator of the crane stayed at the scene and was tested for drugs and alcohol.

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Crane ReportFollowing the fatal collapse of a crane in  lower Manhattan last February, Mayor de Blasio and NYC building commissioner Rick Chandler created the Crane Safety Technical Working Group. The mission of this independent group of experts was to assess actual New York crane safety regulations and provide a set of  recommendations to improve existing regulations and limit further crane accidents in New York City. A few days ago the group released a report that includes  23 recommendations to improve crane safety in New York City.

The group noted that despite having some of the most comprehensive crane safety regulations in the world, the NYC  Department of Buildings hasn’t comprehensively revised and updated these regulations since 2008. In between technology and best practices have evolved tremendously. A new effort to update regulations was launched by the DOB  last year but nothing has been released yet. Therefore the Crane Safety Technical Working Group proposes that the Department of Buildings integrates the Crane Safety Technical Working Group recommendations with their ongoing efforts to update the existing crane regulations.

In its recommendations, the group suggests: