New York City Suspends License of Crane Operator

The operator of a crane that collapsed recently at a New York City construction site was trying to lift a load that was more than twice as heavy as the capacity of the crane, in a place that it never should have been, according to officials. Seven construction workers were injured, as a result.

The Department of Buildings suspended Paul Greer’s crane operator license following a preliminary investigation into the collapse that injured seven construction workers in Queens, New York.  The agency said that Greer was trying to lift a load that was nearly 24,000 pounds, nearly twice the crane’s capacity, when the 170-foot-long boom fell onto metal scaffolding and the wooden framework, which made up the first floor of what will be a 25-story apartment building.

Although none of the injuries were life threatening, they were still serious. Three of the injured seven needed to be extricated from underneath the fallen machinery, suffering a range of injuries including broken bones.

Apparently, the operator could not even see what the crane was lifting and was moving materials outside of an approved zone, as was reported by Buildings Commissioner, Robert Limandri.

TF Cornerstone was the project’s main contractor.  A subcontractor for TF Cornerstone leased the equipment from New York Crane and Equipment Corp.

At press time, the construction site remained closed.

Construction cranes have been a source of safety concerns since two giant rigs collapsed in Manhattan within two months of each other in 2008, killing a total of nine people.  New York Crane owned one of the cranes. Owner James Lomma was tried and acquitted on manslaughter charges arising out of that incident, which killed two workers. The Empire State Development Corp., which is overseeing the project, said work on the tower started in November.

Another crane fell and killed a worker in April at a construction site for a new subway line. That rig was exempt from most city construction safety rules because it was working for a state-overseen agency that runs the subway system.

During Superstorm Sandy in October, a construction crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan collapsed in high winds, just dangling until it could be secured days later.

This is the last residential building at the Queens West development, located near the East River waterfront. The building had been slated for completion in early 2014. Engineers will examine the history of the crane involved in the collapse as part of the investigation, including the equipment’s maintenance and operation records.

The 2008 accidents led to new safety measures, including hiring more inspectors and expanding training requirements and inspection checklists.

It is unfortunate that seven construction workers were injured due to the negligence of the crane operator.  Clearly, crane operators should undergo thorough, intense training before being allowed to operate such a powerful, potentially dangerous piece of machinery.

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