While it seems hard to believe, New York City has actually seen multiple deadly crane accidents in less than a decade. Indeed, the most recent of these accidents took place in February, when a crawler crane collapsed in 40 mile-per-hour winds in Tribeca, causing the death of a pedestrian.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, Mayor Bill de Blasio convened a technical group to examine crane safety. Chief among the group’s recommendations was to start enforcing a longstanding rule dictating that crawler crane operations in the city must cease when the National Weather Service finds or predicts that wind speeds will reach at least 30 miles-per-hour.
In recent developments, members of the Building Trades Employers Association, an industry trade group, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court earlier this week against the Department of Buildings seeking to have all of the newly introduced crane regulations permanently enjoined.
In particular, the complaint targets the high-wind regulation, calling it “arbitrary and capricious,” and unsubstantiated by any evidence. Indeed, it claims that the February crane accident that spurred action by the city was not the result of high winds, but rather operator error, and that there is a dearth of scientific or engineering research to suggest that crawler cranes suddenly become unsafe at 30 miles-per-hour.
It then goes on to argue that the high-wind regulation is not only harming business, but will actually increase the danger to construction workers and the general public going forward given that the process of grounding cranes, which will now have to occur more often, is an inherently complex and risky undertaking.
For its part, the DOB has indicated that it has no plans to abandon the new crane regulations and will fight the lawsuit.
It will be fascinating to see how this matter turns out, as it will have a dramatic impact on the construction industry here in New York. Here’s hoping the right decisions are made.
Stay tuned for updates …
If you’ve been seriously injured in a construction or crane-related accident, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can fight for justice on your behalf.