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Potential Change To Crane Laws Could Result In Construction Injuries


It has only been a little over a month since a
565-foot-tall crane collapsed in lower Manhattan, killing one man, injuring several others, and damaging four buildings, but a group that was ordered to look over New York City’s safety rules has already requested that stricter rules put in place after the deadly accident be reversed. 

The Mayor’s Reaction To The AccidentCrane

Two days after the collapse, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that stricter regulations and penalties would now be put into place in order to prevent future accidents from happening. Changes included:

  1. The removal and securement of cranes from operation whenever winds reach 20 mph or higher, instead of the previous 30 mph.
  2. The removal of cranes the day before if a forecast calls for high winds.
  3. Street and sidewalk closures when a crane is in use.
  4. The notification of crane movement to anyone who lives or works in the immediate area.
  5. The creation of a crane safety task force to review and create safety regulations.
  6. An increase in fines. Anyone who doesn’t comply with the regulations will face fines of $10,000 – more than double the current fine of $4,800.

As Mayor de Blasio said, “There is no building that is worth a person’s life.

Construction Companies Believe Stricter Rules Is Hurting Business

Those who work in the construction business, and who own cranes, have reported that the tighter regulations are causing them to stop work more often, enough that their schedules are slowed and their businesses are suffering.

The group which was put in place to review safety regulations by Mayor de Blasio, has recommended that cranes be allowed to stay up until the winds reach 30 mph. If a crane is incapable of withstanding winds of 20 mph or greater, they suggest that they be banned from use in public areas completely.

These suggestions have not been enforced yet, and some worry that if they are, additional collapses will happen and more people will be injured or killed. It has also been suggested that OSHA also needs to perform a review of the safety standards they have created to see if even stricter precautions need to be taken.

OSHA Crane Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a long list of rules that govern the operation of a crane on any job:

  • Only designation and licensed personnel are allowed to operate the crane.
  • The cab of the crane must be a minimum of 3 inches from any fixed structures on the worksite to avoid collision.
  • If any modifications are made to the crane, it must be reinspected by a qualified engineer or the equipment manufacturer.
  • All cranes must be tested for and marked with their load capacity.
  • Each hoisting part of a crane must be equipped with its own brake.
  • All brakes must be applied when the power has been removed.
  • After the initial inspection of a new crane, the machine must continue to have regular inspections in 1-12 month intervals.

These are just a few examples of the high standards that OSHA holds all construction companies, crane operators, and crane manufacturers to, and yet, accidents still happen with alarming frequency, and many workers’ compensation claims involve injuries that were sustained because of a crane accident.

Crane Accidents and Workers’ Compensation

So many of ours clients have told us that they believed their employers workers’ compensation insurance would provide for them in the event that they were injured while working with a crane. This isn’t surprising – workers’ compensation should cover an injured worker’s medical expenses and lost wages. All too frequently, however, it doesn’t.

Even if a claim is approved, the equation used to calculate how much should be paid out in lost wages will only give the injured employee a fraction of what they would have gotten in a paycheck. Insurance companies also often require that certain surgeries and medical procedures be pre-authorized before they will pay for it. Pre-authorizations are frequently denied.

Sadly, many of the people who are injured by cranes have serious, life-changing injuries. A workers’ compensation denial can be financially devastating. These decisions can be appealed, but for many, the help of an attorney is required in order to get the payments they need.  

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