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Changes to NYC Crane Law Being Enforced on Inspection

Changes to NYC Crane Law Being Enforced on Inspection

In April, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) conducted surprise inspections on construction cranes throughout New York City. Negligent operation of the huge cranes involved in skyscraper construction has been linked to several deaths of construction workers and passersby in recent years, prompting changes in regulations to prevent accidents. But new laws are useless without aggressive enforcement, so DOB inspectors made the rounds on Wednesday, April 4 to examine numerous cranes and demand compliance.

As reported on the abc7NY website, all large construction cranes are now required to have “wind measuring devices” on top. Cranes must cease operation when winds reach 30 miles per hour. As the investigative reporters noted, when the wind measuring device is not functioning due to an equipment failure, the crane cannot be operated until the device is back on line.

Other changes to the law include having a lift director for the crane and increased fines for unsafe operation. According to DOB Deputy Commissioner Timothy Hogan, a crane operator who takes a risk or cuts corners could be personally liable for a fine of up to $25,000.

Despite the high-profile spot checks, crane operation is still largely an “honor system” enterprise. There are only 12 DOB inspectors available to police roughly 300 cranes operating throughout the five boroughs. However, Hogan says DOB has the discretion to “bring in additional inspectors from other parts of the agency.”

The Department of Buildings claims to have “cracked down on unsafe crane operations,” by “nearly doubling the number of violations from 4,000 five years ago to 8,000 last year.”  But while an increase in citations might indicate tighter enforcement, the swell in the number of violations is also a sure sign of a rampant problem. Obviously, the point of the law is not to give the city another revenue stream, but to produce a deterrent effect that keeps construction workers and passersby safe. Deterrence can only come with stepped up enforcement and a constant threat of liability.

The construction accident lawyers at Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson represent injured workers throughout New York City. If you’ve been hurt in a worksite accident, call us at 888.746.8212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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