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Mayor de Blasio Announces Increased Enforcement, New Measures on Crane Safety

February 7, 2016

Crawler cranes must cease operations and secure equipment when winds are forecast to hit 20mph, must certify equipment is in safety mode

Fines to be doubled to $10,000 for failure to safeguard equipment

Leading engineers and academics to head technical working group recommending further reforms

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a four-point plan to increase safety when large cranes are operating. Those steps include new restrictions on crawler cranes during wind conditions, doubled fines for failure to safeguard equipment, increased enforcement of pedestrian safety alongside crane sites and more notification of crane activities to adjacent buildings.

The investigation into Friday’s crane collapse is continuing, including a forensic investigation of the equipment itself. On Friday, the Mayor ordered that the city's crawler cranes be inspected by the Department of Buildings before they are put back into service.

“No building is worth a person’s life. We are going to ensure the record boom in construction and growth does not come at the expense of safety,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation and are determined to improve the safety of cranes, and the neighborhoods in which they work, through aggressive enforcement and implementing lessons learned from this incident,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE.

“I attended the funeral service for David Wichs who was killed by the crane. He was an extraordinarily wonderful human being and his death is a tragedy. Construction sites must be safe and I applaud Mayor de Blasio for announcing additional measures that will make construction that involves cranes even safer. No one should die or be injured at or near construction areas,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A Brewer.

“I extend my condolences to the victim in this accident, as well as those injured, and thank our first responders,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “This is a tragic reminder of the need for construction coordination in lower Manhattan, as LMCCC and the more recent DOT coordination have done so well since 2004. I thank the Mayor and city for their transparency, responsiveness and fast action in the wake of this tragedy. I will continue to work closely with CB1, colleagues, and the city as details regarding this incident continue to emerge.”

“In the wake of the tragic incident on Worth Street, I applaud these common sense safety measures, including the requirement that crane operators secure their equipment before, and not during, a high wind event. I thank the Mayor for acting quickly to help protect New Yorkers from an increasing amount of crane activity in our densely populated neighborhoods,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

“NYC residents and taxpayers demand a construction process that is safe and a DOB that is modern, transparent and accountable first and foremost to the public.  We support Mayor De Blasio's proposals to reform construction along these lines. NYC is known worldwide for its tall buildings and in the 21st century they must be built on bedrock and on a foundation of public trust that must be restored,” Chair Catherine McVay Hughes, Manhattan Community Board 1.

Under the new policies:

New Restrictions on Crawler Cranes: Until further notice, all crawler cranes will be required to cease operation and go into safety mode whenever steady winds are forecast to exceed 20mph or gusts to exceed 30mph. The Department of Buildings will send advisories to crane engineers when wind conditions warrant. Engineers will be required to certify the compliance with the DOB. Inspections and violations will result if certification is not reported. Through rulemaking, the DOB will raise the base penalty for failure to safeguard from $4,800 to $10,000. 

More Sidewalk Protection for Pedestrians: The NYPD, FDNY, DOB and DOT will increase enforcement of sidewalk and street closures related to crane activity. The DOT will require pedestrian traffic managers on projects operating large cranes in areas with significant pedestrian traffic. The DOB will conduct inspections and issue violations to crane firms, operators and other personnel if flaggers are not appropriately restricting pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Improved Notification for Surrounding Residents and Businesses: Prior to moving a crane, operators will be required to notify those who live or work in the area. Currently, crane operators are required to notify residents and businesses only when the crane is first installed.

New Task Force on Crane Safety: The City will convene a technical working group to develop further strategies to improve crane safety. Over the next 90 days, the task force will evaluate the conditions involved in Friday's collapse and propose additional best practices and regulations to make New York's cranes the safest in the world.

“While the city needs to continue to grow, it must do so in a way in which the safety of workers and the public is paramount. We are committed to working with Mayor de Blasio and Department of Buildings Commissioner Chandler to ensure that that the highest safety measures are in place at work sites throughout the city,” said John H. Banks, III, President of The Real Estate Board of New York.

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