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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Crane Collapse Spurs|New Rules in Big Apple

MANHATTAN (CN) - New York's mayor clamped down on safety regulations days after a five-story-tall crane toppled to the snowy streets of the city's Tribeca neighborhood, killing a Wall Street trader and injuring four others on Friday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his new policies Sunday in front of the giant red crane as it was being dismantled and hauled off.

His new rules force so-called "crawler cranes" to shut down when winds blow steadily at 20 miles per hour, or gust to 30 mph or more.

The old rules allowed those kinds of steel cranes to operate in sustained winds of up to 30 mph, or until gusts reached 40 mph.

Construction crews that don't comply also face greater fines - from $4,800 to $10,000.

The mayor also called for more "sidewalk protection" for pedestrians in the vicinity of large cranes.

"We'll be ramping up enforcement of pedestrian protections," he said during Sunday's news conference. "In any situation where there will be a securing of a crane and pedestrians are not supposed to pass in the affected area, of course we'll require the work crews to ensure that that's not happening," he said.

Additionally, de Blasio said construction crews will now be forced to inform residents and business of the presence of cranes. Previously, he noted, crews operating cranes were only required to tell the community that a crane was first installed but will now be told when the cranes will be put into a secure position.

He also formed a task force to not only look into the incident but to prevent something like it from happening again. He gave them 90 days to evaluate the incident and report back.

"We're going to leave no stone unturned in terms of learning from this accident and determining if we need other safety measures going forward," he said.

"We all know there is a construction boom going on in our city. And although we value the work that's being done, the value of what it means for our economy - we value the jobs that are being created - nothing is more important than the safety of our people.

"We are going to make sure that the people of New York City are safe," he said, adding that he was prepared to "take strong measures to put limits on construction" if needed.

The mayor identified the victim in Friday's collapse as David Wichs, 38. His funeral service was held on Sunday, the same day as the mayor's announcement.

Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler told reporters that the two-block span where the crane collapsed has since been cleaned up.

"All buildings in the area remain stable," Chandler added.

Immediately after the incident, De Blasio ordered the 376 crawler cranes and 43 tower cranes operating in the city shut down. They have since been allowed to resume work, Chandler said.

The steel crane operated by the Maspeth, New York-based construction company Galasso, fell at 40 Worth Street at about 8:30 a.m. Friday, damaging four buildings in the lower Manhattan neighborhood as it went down.

A 24-year-old woman and a 74-year-old were also severely injured, while a fourth victim suffered only minor injuries, authorities said.

The crawler crane - so called because it has wheels and can be driven like a truck - was about 565 feet tall. An electrician working in a nearby building captured the crane's collapse on video .

Forecasters at John F. Kennedy International Airport reported that winds reached 30 miles an hour and that at least six inches of snow had fallen on the city when the crane collapsed.

The incident hobbled subways and forced the closure of nearby Manhattan Supreme Court, located blocks away. The courthouse reopened Monday morning, authorities said in a text message alert.

City officials had inspected the crane and cleared it for operation the day before the collapse, the mayor noted.

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