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For Immediate Release
June 12, 2009


New Communication Network among Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City Will Help Prevent Crane Accidents

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced a new partnership with the cities of Chicago and Philadelphia to share critical data on tower cranes erected within their borders. Under the unprecedented information-sharing agreement, building officials will share information about the design and operation of active tower cranes, as well as other important details, such as crane equipment failures, manufacturer recalls, operational trends and accidents. This information, which will be stored in a common database and updated quarterly, will be used by each jurisdiction to help determine the operational history of a tower crane and whether it is safe to be operated. This new communication network is set to launch by the end of June, and other municipal and state agencies across the country are expected to join in the coming months.

The new database will track 10 specific items in each jurisdiction, including: the number of active tower cranes, the locations of their operation, the name of the crane owner, the make, model, model year, maximum height and serial number of each tower crane and the dates when each one is erected and dismantled. Today, there are more than 50 active tower cranes in New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia.

"Sharing this information can save lives," said Commissioner LiMandri. "This new pact is a major step toward establishing a standardized system of tracking tower cranes across the country and will ultimately better protect New Yorkers and millions of other Americans from unsafe construction practices. I would like to thank officials from Chicago and Philadelphia for their cooperation and commitment to public safety, and I encourage more jurisdictions to join us."

"This is a great program that will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our ability to regulate cranes and protect public safety," said Richard Monocchio, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Buildings. "This registration and history will provide more information than any one city could obtain or track on its own."

"This new partnership will reduce the potential for future tragedies," said Frances Burns, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections. "Philadelphia has made safe crane operation a priority by drafting strict, yet sensible laws that increase oversight and training, and by sharing data with others, it will help us all provide a safer environment for our construction workers and citizens."

There is no national database to track tower cranes or their parts, which easily move through municipal and state jurisdictions with varying degrees of oversight, requirements and inspectorial resources. The current federal crane regulations are more than 40 years old, and a modern set of standards proposed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not include any requirements for crane tracking. Last year, there were two fatal crane accidents in New York City, as well as dozens of others throughout the country, including Houston, Las Vegas and Miami.

Crane regulations in New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia - three of the country's most densely populated urban areas - are considered among the toughest in the world, and unlike many jurisdictions, the three cities require tower crane users to obtain permit approval and pass a series of inspections before a crane is allowed to be operated. Earlier this year, a crane owner attempted to register a mobile tower crane for use in New York City, but the Department received an anonymous tip that the crane was involved in a recent accident in Toronto, Canada. The registration of the crane has been denied pending an ongoing investigation by the Department's Cranes and Derricks Unit.

This joint agreement builds upon relationships established at the Department's crane safety conference in October where more than 50 government officials from local, state and federal agencies around the world discussed ways to improve crane safety. In December, the Department held a second conference with 10 of the world's leading crane manufacturers who represent 70% of the cranes registered to operate in New York City.

Crane tracking is one of the recommendations stemming from the High Risk Construction Oversight study, which the Department launched in July to improve crane, hoists, excavations and concrete operations citywide. With a $4 million investment from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the study brought together more than 30 engineering experts from CTL Engineers and Construction Technology Consultants, P.C. (CTL) to work with the Department and construction industry members to review regulations, materials, processes and systems employed during high-risk construction.

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