April 2016

Whether a person is a republican, democrat or independent, conservative, liberal or moderate, it can be agreed upon that government, federal, state or local, can do good things for its citizens and residents. Alternatively, government also can and does overreach or overreact to problems.

Some industry associations are saying that NYC’s government is overreacting with potentially dangerous consequences, expressing their concerns, if not dismay, over the recent “temporary” crawler crane wind restrictions enacted by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in the aftermath a crawler crane collapse that occurred along Worth Street, between West Broadway and Church. As the crane was being secured because of winds that were approaching more than 20 mph, it fell, killing one person in a parked car and injuring three others by debris.

The mayor did not cast blame on either the crane owner or operator; in fact, he commended both for acting as quickly as they did to put the crane in a secure position and redirecting foot traffic away from the site. In short, the new restrictions, in part, are that crawler cranes must cease operation and go into safety mode whenever steady winds are forecast to exceed 20 mph or gusts are forecast to exceed 30 mph. Fines will be levied if crews fail to do so.

Two things have been going on in NYC, one recent and the other for a long time: the city has been experiencing an incredible building boom lately, which explains the high number of cranes working in the city, and the city is a windy place — not Chicago windy, but still pretty breezy.

These industry associations are asking de Blasio to reconsider his “one size fits all” wind restriction, arguing that it’s just as dangerous, if not more so, to put a crane in “safe mode” as it is to actually have it working in winds approximately 20 mph. In fact, they argue, that “there is no basis in the manufacturers’ manuals and specifications for a 20 mph threshold on the operations of crawler cranes, to be placed in “safe mode.” They also are extremely concerned about the effects this restriction has on employment because many workers are paid hourly and these times of shutdown cost jobs and lost wages.

It’s a tough situation here and much of this controversy is rooted in the word “temporary” and how long that will be. In this instance, though, government needs to work with the construction industry and crane manufacturers to ensure that a truly safe and fair solution is enacted and quickly. Safety and jobs are at stake and frankly, that’s what government is support to ensure and foster.

You can also view previous issues of Superintendent's Profile.