Industry Fights NYC Crane Safety Laws

     MANHATTAN (CN) – The Steel Institute of New York says New York City’s new crane-safety laws – enacted after two deadly crane collapses in 2008 – put an “excessive” burden on its members, who already are subject to federal regulations.

     Construction companies must obey the Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970), which requires states to submit plans if they wish to add to the federal standards. The Steel Institute says New York City did not create an OSHA-approved state plan before adopting new statutes and inspection checklists for crane sites.
     The city’s new law puts most decisions in the hands of the building commissioner or department inspector, the Steel Institute says. This gives city officials the power of “arbitrary and capricious enforcement” and the power to impose discriminatory civil sanctions for nonhazardous conditions that do not explicitly violate any statute, the industry group says.
     One new law forbids crawler, locomotive and truck cranes built after Oct. 1, 2006, from operating in the city, according to the complaint.
     The city Building Department said in a June 25 statement that it spent $4 million this year to create the High-Risk Construction Oversight Initiative in response to public unrest over the spate of construction accidents and deaths.
     The initiative found that after launching the Excavations Inspections and Audits Unity, the number of excavations accidents in which people were killed decreased from eight in 2006 to two in 2008.
     Two deadly crane collapses in 2008 – one on the Upper East Side in May and one in Midtown in March – killed nine people and injured 28. The former chief crane inspector and a Long Island-based crane company were indicted in October 2008 on corruption charges.
     The Steel Institute seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. It claims the city violated due process and the supremacy and commerce clauses of the Constitution. It is represented by James Butler with Smith, Currie & Hancock.

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