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Fatal NYC Crane Collapse Draws Citations from OSHA

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to three contractors with proposed penalties totaling ...

September 16, 2008

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to three contractors with proposed penalties totaling $313,500 for alleged violations of safety standards after investigating the catastrophic March 15 collapse of a tower crane in New York City that killed seven people. The accident took place at 303 E. 51st St. in midtown Manhattan.

Cited were 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. Rapetti was cited for alleged problems associated with rigging the crane and lack of fall protection, while Reliance and Joy were cited for lack of fall protection, fire protection and other hazards unrelated to the crane collapse.

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

Rapetti Rigging has been issued three willful citations with penalties totaling $210,000 for allegedly failing, among other things, to comply with the crane manufacturer’s specifications and limitations when erecting and raising the tower crane, to protect synthetic rigging slings from damage, to inspect the slings for damage or defects before use, and to remove a defective sling from service.

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

Rapetti also has been issued five serious citations, with $10,000 in proposed fines for fall hazards. Employees working on the crane’s mast and at the edge of the 18th floor level and other areas lacked proper fall protection. Penalties proposed against Rapetti total $220,000.

Joy Contractors has been issued one repeat and 14 serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $74,000. The repeat citation alleges the lack of fall protection for employees working 180 feet above the ground. OSHA cited Joy in March 2007 for a similar hazard at a Mt. Pleasant, N.Y., worksite. The serious citations allege failure to train employees in jobsite hazards, unsafe work area debris, fire hazards, fall hazards, unsafe material storage, and hazards created by the eccentric loading of concrete shoring and formwork.

Reliance Construction Group has been issued 11 serious citations with a total of $19,500 in proposed penalties. The citations allege failure to train employees in jobsite hazards, unsafe work area debris, fire hazards, fall hazards, and hazards created by the eccentric loading of concrete shoring and formwork.

OSHA’s inspection of the May 30 crane collapse at 91st Street and First Avenue in New York City is still ongoing.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA’s role is to promote the safety and health of America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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