Proposed rule change for cranes meets criticism

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.

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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]