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For Immediate Release
October 16, 2008

BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT HOSTS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CRANE SAFETY

More Than 50 Construction and Public Safety Experts Examining Safety Standards for Cranes

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today hosted an international conference on crane safety with more than 50 construction and public safety experts from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to discuss crane safety protocols around the world. Among the participants who attended the landmark meeting were representatives from major cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Toronto, and London, as well as state jurisdictions such as Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Held at the Department's headquarters in Lower Manhattan, the conference is the first of its kind in the country and serves as a major step forward in developing an ongoing worldwide dialogue among responsible parties in the crane industry, including government regulators, crane owners, manufacturers, operators, contractors, engineers, and riggers. In the coming months, Commissioner LiMandri will hold a safety summit with major crane manufacturers to discuss how to make cranes safer and build upon ideas generated at today’s conference.

“We each represent different cities, states, and countries, but we are all facing the same challenge – how to make cranes safer,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “Recent accidents in New York City and other jurisdictions around the world have made it clear that crane safety is a critical issue affecting all of us. Cranes easily move across state lines and international borders with varying degrees of oversight, and this conference will foster an international dialogue to help standardize regulations and better protect millions of New Yorkers and others around the world.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cranes have caused 323 fatalities across the country between 1992 and 2006, 68 of which were due to collapsing cranes like the one that led to the death of six workers and one civilian on March 15 in New York City. Following two crane collapses in New York City this year, the Department has hired engineering experts to study crane operations, expanded crane inspection checklists from 35 items to more than 200, and implemented tougher regulations, including mandatory training for tower crane workers and the submission of detailed rigging and jumping plans as part of the crane application process.

At today’s conference, officials reviewed crane safety standards for permitting, licensing, maintaining, repairing, and operating cranes in order to identify ways to collectively address the problems that have plagued the crane industry. Earlier in the day, Commissioner LiMandri joined the officials in a brief tour of a construction site at 123 Washington St. in Lower Manhattan where a 200-foot-high crane has been erected.

Below are some of the topics discussed at today’s conference:

  • Crane Permits and Inspections: Oversight of cranes varies by city and state. New York City, Chicago and California are widely viewed as having the most comprehensive crane regulations. Conference participants reviewed crane safety standards and systems of oversight in the respective jurisdictions represented.
  • Tracking System for Crane Parts: Cranes consist of critical structural parts, such as the boom, jib, cab, and counterweights. These parts can easily travel to construction sites across jurisdictions, yet there is no universal standard for tracking their maintenance and repair. Conference participants explored ways in which these parts can be tracked throughout their lifetime.
  • Crane License Requirements: Licensing systems vary by city and state. New York City is only one of 19 jurisdictions nationwide that restricts the operation of cranes to licensed individuals. Conference participants examined the benefits and costs of licensing the responsible parties overseeing the operation of cranes.
  • Crane Maintenance and Repair Standards: Construction and public safety experts agree that clear national standards are needed for the quality of crane repairs. Conference participants looked at ways to implement minimum requirements nationwide.
Today’s conference included representatives from the following jurisdictions:
  • City of Chicago Department of Buildings
  • Connecticut State Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement
  • Connecticut State Police
  • Connecticut State Crane Licensing
  • City of Dallas Building Inspection Division
  • City of Houston Building Inspections Division
  • Massachusetts State Department of Public Safety
  • New Jersey State Department of Labor and Workforce Development
  • New York State Crane Operator Examining Board
  • New York State Department of Labor
  • City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections
  • City of Toronto Building Division
  • United Kingdom Health and Safety Division
  • United States Department of Labor
  • Unites States Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Kate Lindquist (212) 566-3473

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