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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craneAfter two successive crane accidents in New York including one fatal, the company United Crane and Rigging was temporary barred from continuing work at 22 construction sites in the city. The NYC DOB will allow the company to restart work only after it replaces some of the employees involved in the recent accidents that occurred on July 30 in the East Village and in April in Soho. On July 30, the company had a crane working at a site located at 749 FDR Drive. The operator of the crane was lifting steel beans when the boom of the crane bent and partially collapsed. The operator then lost control of the load which struck the building before falling on the ground. Thankfully nobody was injured but investigators found that the load lifted by the crane weighted 4,400 pounds while the maximum lifting capacity was 3,700 pounds. Back in April,  34 year old Gregory Echevarria, a war hero who served several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan died and two other construction workers were injured after a counterweight fell and crushed him during a crane installation by the same operator (see previous blog).

To be able to restart work on its 22 construction sites, United Crane and Rigging has to provide proof to the NYC Department of Buildings that the engineer of record, master rigger, lift director, assembly and disassembly and hoisting machine operators have all been replaced with new staff. Additionally the company also has to hire an independent monitor who will report to the DOB on United Crane and Rigging’s safety compliance.The negligent crane company was also hit with 5 DOB violations for:

  1. inadequate safety measures on site
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Gregory EchevarriaA NYC hard hat who was installing a crane died after the counter weight he was setting fell on him.

34 year old Gregory Echevarria was part of a crew installing a crane at a luxury residential development located at 570 Broome Street in Soho early Saturday morning. A little bit after 3:00 am the crane counterweight that Echevarria was installing slipped and fatally struck him. The crew immediately called 911. When the EMS crew arrived they found him unresponsive with severe injuries all over his body. He was declared dead at the scene of the accident. Two other workers were also injured in the accident.  People who were in the area at the time of the accident reported a very loud sound as the 7.5 ton counterweight fell.

After the accident the crane was moved and a stop work order was issued by the Department of Buildings. The 570 Broom project is being built by  Agime Group. KSK Construction Group is managing the construction project. The DOB previously received several safety complaints for the site.

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A 63 year old man injured his foot in a crane accident in New York.  The accident occurred around 10:20 pm on Monday night near Penn Station on 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan. As it was lifting material, the arm of the machine collapsed.

The truck mounted crane belonging to the Brooklyn company Lifting Solutions was lifting I-beams for Starr Construction when the hydraulic system failed and the boom crashed on the sidewalk. Pedestrians panicked and ran for cover.  Some of them thought it was an explosion. One person was sent to the emergency room after being injured by the debris.

A  hazardous material team was dispatched by the FDNY to clean up the spill of hydraulic fluid.

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Gotham residential construction siteLast June, two construction workers were seriously injured in a mini-crane accident in New York because of the negligence of their contractor, Western Waterproofing Co. Inc from St. Louis (see previous blog).

The accident occurred after two supervisors working for the contractor rented a mini-crane, installed it on the fourth floor of the construction site and instructed an untrained worker to lift heavy curtain wall panels with it. The load was too heavy and the crane tipped and fell four stories down. Two workers, Jorge Delgado and Christopher Jackson were seriously injured during the accident.

Last week, OSHA cited the Missouri contractor for exposing employees to serious injuries and proposed a $155,204 fine against the company.

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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