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Defects Found in Collapsed Crane That Killed Worker

Thursday, April 05, 2012

WNYC

Engineers have found defects in the hoisting system of the construction crane that crashed down at a Manhattan worksite, killing a worker, according to the New York City Department of Buildings.

Maintenance and operation of the crane prior to the accident has become the focus of their investigation, the DOB said. An official said poor maintenance and or improper handling of the crane may have contributed to the accident.

 A 30-year-old laborer from New Jersey was killed in the Tuesday accident at the site where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a No. 7 subway line extension.

The MTA said a January 10 inspection by the Buildings Department could not be completed because the rig was in operation at the time. A follow-up had been scheduled for Thursday.

Work at the site of the crane collapse will resume on Monday, according to the MTA.

The incident happened Tuesday evening at 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, the area where the MTA is extending the Number 7 Subway Line.

Meanwhile, the City Council and the MTA continue to be at odds over who should have oversight of the Number 7 Train extension site, and other MTA construction sites.

As a state agency, the MTA is exempt from city safety laws.

East Side City Council Member Jessica Lappin was one of the people directly responsible for making city safety laws tougher after a total of nine people died in crane collapses in 2008. Lappin, along with Council Speaker Christine Quinn, continues to push for the MTA to fall under city construction safety rules. “I do think the MTA should stop pointing fingers and should follow the rules that we have already set out,” Lappin said.

The MTA said it has the same goal as the city. "The MTA like all other state agencies has to follow state codes. We try to keep our sites as safe as possible," said Adam Lisberg, the director of External Communications for the MTA.

After the 2008 incidents, Lappin sponsored and the council passed four bills that strengthen crane safety rules. One requires crane operators to undergo a thirty hour safety and training course, with an eight hour refresher course every three years.

Another new law makes engineers create site safety plans before cranes are used at a construction site.

A third bill prohibits nylon slings, which were found to be the cause of the March 2008 crane collapse.

The laws also give the city ability to put a compliance safety officer on the ground at construction site where repeated safety problems occur with a particular contractor.

There wasn’t a city compliance safety officer at the 34th Street site because the MTA is exempt from these bills, emphasized Councilwoman Lappin. "That’s really the whole issue here," she said.

The councilwoman and the MTA said they continued to talk Thursday about adhering to city safety standards on MTA work sites.

The agency ordered inspections Wednesday of all MTA construction cranes.

With the Associated Press

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