DOB alters crane oversight

By Adam Pincus | May 28, 2008 03:57PM

The Department of Buildings has loosened regulations covering the raising and lowering of tower cranes, which had been tightened in the aftermath of a fatal crane accident in Turtle Bay in March.

The agency said in a statement that it issued new rules today that no longer require a Department of Buildings inspector to take part in a meeting before or during a crane installation, known as a jump.

On March 25, the department issued interim rules requiring inspectors to be present at all raising and lowering of tower cranes and at a planning meeting that preceded the jump. The agency will now send inspectors to crane jumps on a random basis.

“This change comes after 49 of the 51 jumps witnessed by buildings inspectors since mid-March were safely completed according to the applicable regulations,” Kate Lindquist, a DOB spokeswoman, told The Real Deal. She added that random inspections “will best direct the department’s eight crane inspectors toward cracking down on the bad actors that do not follow the rules.”

Seven people were killed when a tower crane toppled on March 15 during construction of a tower at 303 East 51st Street. The crane was being jumped when it collapsed.

In March, Louis Coletti, president and chief executive officer of the Building Trades Employer’s Association, which represents unionized contractors, told The Real Deal that he supported the stricter safety measures, but said he was concerned that the city might not have enough inspectors. Coletti could not immediately be reached for comment.

In addition, the department said that nylon slings, which were suspected of tearing and leading to the crane collapse, must be used according to manufacturers’ recommendations and only with softening mechanisms placed on sharp edges of items being lifted.