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OSHA Penalizes Three Contractors After Crane Collapse Investigation

OSHA has cited three contractors in response to its investigation of the devastating March 15, 2008, crane accident in New York City. The collapse of the tower crane at 303 E. 51st Street in midtown Manhattan killed seven people.  OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $313,500, for alleged violations of safety standards to be issued to the three contractors.

Rapetti Rigging Services Inc., the crane’s erector, Reliance Construction Group, the project’s general contractor and Joy Contractors Inc., the project’s concrete and superstructure contractor, have all been cited by OSHA.  Rapetti Rigging was cited for alleged problems associated with rigging the crane and lack of fall protection and Reliance and Joy were cited for lack of fall protection, fire protection and other hazards that were unrelated to the crane collapse.

“This case illustrates in stark terms that failure to follow required procedures can have wide-ranging and catastrophic consequences.” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr. said.

Three willful citations have been issued to Rapetti Rigging, which include a total of $210,000 of penalties for allegedly failing to comply with the crane manufacturer’s specifications and limitations when erecting and raising the tower crane, failing to protect synthetic rigging slings from damage, failing to inspect the slips for damage or defects before use and failing to remove a defective sling from service.

Richard Mendelson, OSHA’s area director in Manhattan said, “Ultimately, the crane collapse was a failure to follow basic, but essential, construction safety processes.”

Rapetti Rigging also was cited with five serious violations for fall hazards, with a total of $10,000 in proposed fines.  OSHA found that employees who were working on the crane’s mast and at the edge of the 18th floor level did not have adequate fall protection.  The total penalties proposed for Rapetti Rigging equal $220,000.

Joy Contractors was issued one repeat and fourteen serious citations with proposed fines of $74,000.  OSHA had cited Joy Contractors in March 2007 for a similar hazard in Mt. Pleasant, New York.  Reliance Construction Group was also cited for eleven serious violations, which totaled $19,500 in proposed penalties.

This inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Manhattan Area Office.