Earlier this year a 565-foot crane collapsed at a construction site in lower Manhattan, killing a 38-year old man on his way to work in the Financial District. High wind gusts on a cold February day were thought to be the reason for the collapse. However, city officials with the Department of Buildings have come to the conclusion that it was the crane’s operator who was responsible for the fatal accident.
Initially, the 56-year-old crane operator was applauded for steering the crane away from buildings in its path. Now, the Commissioner of the Buildings Department reports that “The crane operator involved in this incident acted recklessly, with tragic results.” An investigation into the collapse showed that the operator made more than one mistake, before the accident. He failed to properly secure the crane the night before, and also lowered it at an improper angle while trying to bring it down the morning of the collapse. At this point, the crane became unstable and there was nothing the operator could do to prevent it from coming down onto the street. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) agreed with the City’s findings. The operator’s license is currently suspended and a case has been filed to have it permanently revoked.
Crane collapses and accidents have been in the news more than anyone would like this year. Aside from the fatal February accident in Tribeca, there was the summer collapse of a crane on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Thankfully no one was injured and the only residual effects were a few days of bad traffic delays. A few days before Thanksgiving, two construction workers were killed in a crane accident in Queens. The crane was lifting a 6,500-pound beam that came loose and fatally struck the operator in the crane’s cab and a worker on the ground.
Whether it is operator error or malfunctioning or defective machinery, an accident involving a crane or other construction equipment can lead to a serious injury or even death. With the outcome of the investigation into the crane collapse in February, the Building Department Commissioner wants to make it clear that, “The actions we’re taking should send the message to everyone in the construction industry that safety must come first.” If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving a crane or any other type of machinery, please call the experienced and skillful attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., today.