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Part II: New York City crane collapses on the rise

In our previous post, we wrote about the spate of crane collapses and accidents that have hit New York City in recent years.

A recent media report highlighted several incidents in recent weeks we have reported on in this space as well: a high-rise crane buckling during Hurricane Sandy and then hanging from the building for days; a crane collapsing as it was used to try to lift a giant air conditioner; another crane lifting a different AC unit collapsing onto a worker.

The media report says crane owners aren't properly maintaining the giant pieces of construction equipment and are employing operators who are not running the enormous machines safely.

The city is down to just four crane inspectors from the 10 it employed a few years ago. Four inspectors have left the city in the past few months and have been difficult to replace, according to the report.

That leaves crane owners freer to cut costs on required maintenance and oversight of potentially reckless crane operators.

A Buildings Department spokesperson noted that the city has put into place 25 new safety laws since the two deadly crane collapses of 2008.

According to the report, the reality is that crane owners are being largely left alone and to serve as their own safety watchdogs.

Self-policing isn't working, as evidenced by a crane crash last April. That's when a 160-foot-high tractor crane crashed onto a worker, killing him, and seriously injuring another man.

A safety manager had accused the contractor of ignoring safety regulations that were resulting in accidents, including two incidents in the two months before the fatal collapse. In one of the incidents, a worker was clubbed in the head by a load of wood hoisted by a crane.

Injured workers should promptly apply for New York workers' compensation. If that is denied, they should speak with an attorney experienced in helping the injured get the workers' comp benefits they deserve.

Source: New York Daily News, "Owners, operators at fault in scary spike in crane accidents," Jan. 19, 2013

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