Defects found in NYC crane's hoisting system

Friday, April 06, 2012
Crane collapse in New York City

Engineers found defects in the hoisting system of the construction crane that crashed down at a Manhattan worksite, killing a worker and seriously injuring another, the city Department of Buildings said Thursday.

"Our engineers have found defects in the hoisting system of the crane that failed, and as a result, the maintenance and operation of the crane in the days and weeks prior to this tragic accident has become the focus of our investigation," Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said.

LiMandri called on contractors who operate cranes on a job site to perform daily and monthly checks to ensure their equipment is safe to use. Poor maintenance and or improper operation of the crane may have contributed to the accident, officials said.

The crane was due to be checked out this week by city buildings authorities after its most recent inspection could not be completed because the rig was in operation at the time, officials said.

The rig, which failed Tuesday night, had been inspected most recently by the Buildings Department on Jan. 10, officials said.

That report concluded: "Crane cannot be laid down to inspect boom section, safetys only checked." The crane operator's cab and station were found to be in satisfactory condition. A follow-up inspection had been scheduled for Thursday.

A July 14, 2011 inspection found no deficiencies of the crane at the time.

A 30-year-old laborer from Burlington, N.J. died when the crane's boom fell and broke apart at a site where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building an extension of the No. 7 subway line beyond Times Square.

The cause of the accident was under investigation by a variety of agencies, including the police department and the Manhattan district attorney.

The MTA has suspended all work at the site until further notice. The transit agency announced it would immediately inspect all cranes at its construction sites, scattered throughout the city, in order to ensure they were being operated safely.

The disaster was getting extra attention because it was the city's third fatal crane accident in four years, and came following a series of scandals involving lax or corrupt oversight of the industry

After a pair of catastrophic crane accidents crushed buildings and killed nine people in 2008, New York City officials did a major overhaul of the rules and safety procedures for cranes.

None of those new regulations, however, applied to the subway tunnel site where Tuesday's accident took place. As a project run by the MTA, the site was exempt from city oversight.

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