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For Immediate Release   
April 17, 2008

BUILDINGS COMMISSIONER PATRICIA LANCASTER ANNOUNCES RESULTS OF CITYWIDE TOWER CRANE SAFETY INSPECTIONS

Tower Cranes Citywide Evaluated for Code Compliance

Buildings Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster, FAIA, today announced the completion of the Buildings Department's citywide safety inspection sweep of tower cranes, the type of crane involved in the March 15th collapse at 303 East 51st Street in Manhattan.  The results of the safety inspection sweep, launched days after the crane collapse, show that 21 of 29 tower cranes installed and in use throughout the five boroughs passed inspection and are in compliance with regulations. The eight tower cranes issued violations were immediately shut down and remained out of operation until the violations were corrected. Violations for seven of the tower cranes have been corrected, and one of the tower cranes issued a Stop Work Order remains shut down by the Department.

"The public can rest assured that the majority of the tower cranes did pass inspection, but our inspectors uncovered eight tower cranes with unacceptable violations. The Buildings Department shut down these cranes and required the individuals responsible to immediately address the violating conditions," said Commissioner Lancaster. "Cranes that are found to have unsafe violating conditions will not be permitted to operate."

Inspection Sweep Results Show Majority of Tower Cranes Passed Inspection

Since the safety inspection sweep was announced on March 20, all tower cranes installed and in use citywide have been inspected and evaluated for structural deficiencies. A total of 29 tower cranes were inspected at 26 construction sites. Each tower crane inspection lasted an average of four hours and included a visual review of the crane's structure to determine whether it was installed and secured to the building according to the approved engineering plans. Additionally, Buildings inspectors visually inspected the cranes' parts and tested the functionality of each structure, which included a review of boom, load, and swing functions.  Buildings inspectors also tested the safety devices, such as audible and visual warning signals, anti-two block devices, and boom hoist safety shut-offs on the tower cranes to determine whether they were working properly.

Of the 29 tower cranes inspected, 21 of the cranes passed inspection, meaning that these cranes were installed in accordance with engineered plans approved by the Buildings Department and were functioning safely at the time of inspection.  Buildings inspectors issued Stop Work Orders to eight tower cranes.  Of the tower cranes that were shut down by the Department, two had administrative violations, such as not having the proper paperwork available on site at the time of inspection, and six had safety-related violations, including broken decelerators, missing pins, and conditions contrary to the engineered plans.

Citywide Inspection Safety Sweep for Mobile Cranes Launched

Upon completion of the inspection of the 29 tower cranes in operation, the Buildings Department began a safety inspection sweep of approximately 220 mobile cranes throughout the five boroughs on April 14. Unlike the type of crane involved in the accident at 303 East 51st Street, which is assembled on the job site and made up of stacked tower mast sections, mobile cranes are pre-built structures that require no assembly to operate. Commonly used to build or deconstruct buildings and other structures, including tower cranes, mobile cranes are often smaller in size. At this time, the Department has inspected five mobile cranes and issued one Stop Work Order and one violation during the safety inspection sweep. Mobile cranes that do not comply with existing safety and building regulations will be immediately shut down and removed from use. The Commissioner announced today that the mobile crane safety inspection sweep will be complete by May 31, 2008.

Since 2002, the Buildings Department has worked aggressively to improve transparency and infuse integrity and accountability into the construction process. With new proactive enforcement models being utilized by the Stop Work Order Patrol, the Excavations Team, and the Buildings Enforcement Safety Team, Buildings inspectors are conducting more proactive inspections of construction activity across the five boroughs than at any point in the Department's history.  Building on this progress, the Department's Special Enforcement Plan, launched in July 2007, will further the Department's mission of furthering the safe and lawful use of all of New York City's 975,000 buildings and properties.

New Yorkers are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to report non-compliant conditions or 9-1-1 to report emergencies at construction sites.

Contact:     Kate Lindquist/Carly Sullivan (212) 566-3473

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