City announces new crane operator rules will take effect next month

Apr.April 19, 2012 03:30 PM

[Updated at 11:20 April 20 with additional details and a comment from REBNY] The hotly-disputed new guidelines for crane operators in New York City will go into effect next month, a statement from the offices of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway and Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said. The new guidelines will require applicants to obtain certification from a nationally accredited organization.

The major changes apply to Class A and B crane operators, who operate the largest cranes. Under the new rules an operator is required to have three years of experience in area of “comparable density,” to New York City, one of which must be in New York City, if that operator has fewer than 10 years of total experience. No examples of areas of comparable density were cited in the statement.

For Class C crane operators, they regulations will stay the same, requiring at least two years of experience in New York City or another jurisdiction in the U.S. where crane operators are regulated, such as California or Chicago. At least one of the two years of experience must be undertaken in either New York City or in an area of comparable urban density.

Once the rule is passed the Department of Buildings will come to a final determination on the definition of “areas of comparable density,” a spokesperson for the city told The Real Deal.

“A better exam means a better crane operator on the job site,” LiMandri said in the statement. “Veterans of any profession can suffer from complacency, but in the world of high-risk crane operations, it can lead to catastrophe.” He added that more oversight was needed to ensure safety on construction sites, not less.

Local 14 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, a union that almost all licensed crane operators belong to, blasted the new rules earlier this month, saying that the mayor was defending the pocket books of “his super-rich developer friends,” not New Yorkers’ safety. “It’s evident that the real issue here is the drive to reduce labor costs,” Eddie Christian, president of the union, told the Post at the time.

However, the final version of the regulations going into effect, which does require one year of New York City experience, except for the most experienced operators, appears to be a sort of compromise with the union.

A call to the union was not immediately returned.

There has been a spate of crane-related accidents recently — at the construction site for the extension of the number 7 train earlier this month one construction worker was killed, and a cable snapped at the construction site for 4 World Trade Center in February, injuring one.

LiMandri proposed the new rules in December, although they have since been revised, according to city officials. The Real Estate Board of New York has supported the change.

“We applaud Mayor Bloomberg and the DOB on announcing the publication of the final administrative rule on April 26th, which will strengthen the training and licensing requirements for Class A and Class B crane operators. By doing so, Mayor Bloomberg is recognizing the unique and critical importance of crane safety on a construction site and brought crane operators and licensing into the 21st century,” REBNY President Steven Spinola said in a statement. — Guelda Voien

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