A new lawsuit accuses Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration of implementing an arbitrary and dangerous construction policy following a fatal crane collapse in February.
Five contractor associations filed the suit Tuesday afternoon in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to block the city’s prohibition on crawler cranes operating when winds exceed 30 miles per hour. The rule has been on the books since 1968, but officials only recently began enforcing it, after a crane accident on Worth Avenue in Lower Manhattan killed a pedestrian more than eight months ago.
The organizations, which are members of the Building Trades Employers Association, say the city Department of Buildings (DOB) did not seek input from crane operators when it formed an advisory committee to handle crane safety after the fatality.
The suit also accuses the city agency of circumventing standard administrative protocol for changing agency rules and instituting a regulation that is not mirrored in other metropolises around the globe.
“DOB can point to no engineering or scientific study and no other municipal, state or national regulatory scheme that has found that crawler crane operations somehow become unsafe at 30 mph and, by inference, are safe at 29 mph,” the suit states.
It also insists the “arbitrary threshold” makes work sites less safe because cranes would sometimes have to be secured too quickly, in the middle of a job site.
Cranes operations are governed by specific instructions in owner manuals that take into account the individual tonnage a specific crane can carry, said Raymond McGuire, the attorney representing the plaintiffs.
After reviewing crane regulations in places throughout the world, from Chicago to New Zealand, McGuire said he found “not one of them has a threshold wind speed at which you must cease operations. Everybody says the exact same thing: You have to consult the load chart provided by the manufacturers.”
The Department of Buildings defended its regulations, which came after the mayor formed a group to assess safety measures in the wake of the fatal accident.
“The city’s crane rules are there to protect people’s lives,” a spokesman said in an email. “Cranes should not be operating in high winds. We look forward to reviewing this action and are confident we will prevail.”
Read the lawsuit here: http://politi.co/2e7MaaB
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