Contractors Say Crane Ban is Crippling Construction

February 23, 2016



After the fatal February 5 collapse of a 600-foot crane in Lower Manhattan, the New York Department of Buildings ordered all crawler cranes be safety stored whenever windspeeds of 20 mph or more are reached. The temporary policy is intended to give the city time to review current rules and make changes.

The problem, says an organization representing construction subcontractors, is that winds hit 20 miles per hour all the time.  

 “This threshold has had a disastrous impact on the industry,” said William Shuzman, executive director of the Allied Building Metal Industries. Stopping a crane from operating can bring significant components of a project to a halt and delay others, he said, causing a cascade of logistical and financial problems.

Shuzman said in the week following the accident, for example, one of the organization’s members could only work for three days. He also noted that in the past two years, nearly half of those days had windspeeds of 20 mile-per-hour winds as measured at Newark Airport.

Cranes operations during windy conditions are rated by manufacturers and overseen by regulatory agencies. Shuzman says many of the crawler cranes sidelined by the city’s temporary rules are rated for wind speeds higher than 20 miles per hour and maintains constantly raising and lowering crane booms may create an even greater safety concern.

“No building is worth a person’s life, so to protect public safety, the department implemented additional high-wind restrictions on crawler cranes following the deadly collapse earlier this month,” a Department of Buildings spokesman said in a statement. “Those restrictions  will remain in place until a technical working group identifies further measures to improve crane safety in the long term.”

A de Blasio administration spokesman said industry groups will be consulted by the group issuing recommendations but won't be part of it. “The technical group will be made up of experts in the field without vested business interests in New York City," he said. "While the group will consult a wide range of stakeholders, it’s recommendations will be made by an independent core group."

Source: Crains New York