The Real Deal New York

Proposed rule change for cranes meets criticism

March 19, 2012 05:30PM

A new rule under consideration by the Bloomberg administration would allow tower crane operators who have never worked in New York City to obtain licenses, much to the chagrin of the crane workers’ union, the New York Daily News reported.

Under the current rules, an operator of a large crane must work for three years as an apprentice in New York City before working independently. Operating Engineers Local 14 warns that allowing less experienced operators to work on construction sites in the city will only result in more accidents, while the Real Estate Board of New York says the change is safe and will help cut costs, the News said.

The crane collapse at the Azure in 2008, and the recent high-profile trial of the crane operator at the site for manslaughter, have not made the proposed rules any more popular.

The new rules would require two years of apprenticeship experience, but those can take place in any “urban area of comparable density,” the News said. The definiton of “comparable density,” was not given.

The proposal to change the rules was made Feb. 13 at a hearing the News said. The Department of Buildings, which has been under fire recently for the reduced number of elevator inspections in the city since 2008, is the agency responsible for the rules.

Just last month, a cable at a tower crane snapped at the contruction site for 4 World Trade Center, although no one was hurt. [NYDN]

  • spqrxxi

    The article is misleading: there was no collapse at 4 World Trade: a cable snapped. That is not the same.
    Second: it is hard for an industry that has had so many problems to argue that out of town operators will be worse that current operators. If anything, it seems that the local union has been lax in guaranteeing safety.
    Kuddos to the administration for challenging the status quo.

  • Guelda Voien/TRD

    Hi spqrxxi-

    Thanks for your comment. You’re right. I’ve corrected the story to reflect your first point.


  • crane4800

    Out of town operators would be a disaster due to there inexperience on the current equipment used in NYC. All of this is a ploy by the real Estate Board to make more money. None of this ever translates to lower prices just more money in there pockets. They lobbied for PLA agreements and got them on almost every site yet costs didn’t go down
    they got richer . Prices for the specific real estate weren’t cheaper ,the owners got richer . Bloomberg is nothing but a puppet for his buddies on the Real Estate Board. DON’T BE FOOLED

  • JeffGerber

    This ridiculous plan to weaken NYC crane licensing standards by allowing the introduction of inexperienced, out of state, non-union crane operators into our city was hatched by Bloomberg’s buddy, Steven Spinola. Anyone who knows anything about Spinola, who is the president of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), knows that he is a union-buster.

    In order to increase the profits for the developers that his organization represents, Spinola wants the city to relax the rules for obtaining a license to operate a crane in New York City so contractors can bring in inexperienced, non-union crane operators who will work for less money than union crane operators. This may save the developers money, but it will drastically increase the likelihood of future crane accidents.

    Those recent accidents in Manhattan, which resulted in the deaths of Wayne Bliedner and Donald Leo, two members of IUOE Local 14, were caused by faulty equipment/rigging, not by operator error. Spinola and his fellow union-busters knows this, but instead of questioning the business practices of the owner of those cranes, they decided to use these accidents as subterfuge to push for the weakening of the requirements to obtain a NYC Department of Buildings Hoist Machine Operator license, which will greatly weaken the crane operator’s union by causing an influx of inexperienced non-union crane operators from out of state.

    Spinola and his cohorts don’t care about the extraordinary skill of union crane operators and Local 14’s exemplary safety record. All they care about is the additional money they will make if they successfully bust the crane operator’s union.