Construction industry group faults DOB crane rule as arbitrary

By Adam Pincus | May 29, 2008 06:50PM

A city construction trade organization said a new interim rule announced yesterday mandating training of crane assembly crews was vague and could lead to arbitrary work stoppages.

Louis Coletti, president and CEO of the Building Trades Employers Association, which represents unionized contractors, said the rule requiring “practical experience” for construction workers who raise cranes was not specific enough.

“It doesn’t clearly define exactly how many years of experience or what does practical experience mean. Does it mean three years or six months?” he said. “Stronger training is great, but that is an interim solution and I am just fearful that an inconsistent interpretation of what that means could lead to job shut downs.”

Department of Buildings spokeswoman Kate Lindquist said the agency was seeking to stop the unsafe raising, or jumping, of cranes. The rule was issued as part of a revision of regulations imposed after the collapse of a tower crane on the East Side at 303 East 51st Street that killed seven people on March 15.

“It’s in the interest of public safety for workers jumping cranes to know what they’re doing,” Lindquist said.

In addition, the city is considering legislation that would require crane jumpers to have experience and clarify what kind of training would be required. Coletti said his group would not oppose mandatory licensing or certification process.

The new regulation says a “jumping crew must have practical experience with erecting and dismantling (including jumping) the type of crane on which they are working.”

The DOB also dropped the interim requirement that a buildings inspector must be present at meetings before or during each crane jumping.