A huge construction crane being lowered to safety in a snow squall fell into a Lower Manhattan street last month, killing a person in a parked car and leaving three people injured by debris that scattered as the rig’s lengthy boom fell. The boom landed across an intersection, smashed several car roofs and stretched much of a block after the accident, which happened around 8:25 a.m. at a historic building about 10 blocks north of the World Trade Center.
The accident happened as workers were trying to secure the mobile crane against winds around 20 mph by lowering the boom, which had been extended to as long as 565 feet the day before. Because the crane was being lowered, workers were directing pedestrians away from it on a street that otherwise would have had lots of people in the danger zone.
Capable of lifting 330 tons, officials said the rig had been working for about a week to replace air conditioning equipment and generators on the roof of a 425-foot-tall skyscraper. The building takes up an entire block. Galasso Trucking Inc. was the crane operator.
All 376 mobile cranes registered with the city, as well as all 43 of the larger tower cranes, were ordered put in secure positions. Crane safety came under scrutiny in the city in 2008, when two tower cranes collapsed in Manhattan within two months of each other, killing a total of nine people. A crane rigger and crane owner were tried and acquitted on manslaughter charges; a mechanic pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide. The accidents spurred the resignation of the city buildings commissioner and fueled new safety measures, including hiring more inspectors and expanding training requirements and inspection checklists.
But another crane fell and killed a worker in April 2012 at a subway construction site that was exempt from most city building safety rules. In January 2013, a crane collapsed at a Queens construction site and injured seven workers. In April, a construction worker died when the hydraulics malfunctioned on the boom truck he was inspecting in midtown Manhattan, causing the boom to collapse and fall on him, pinning him against the flatbed.
Last May, a mobile crane with a 168-foot boom dropped a 13-ton air conditioner being placed atop a midtown Manhattan building, injuring 10 people. In other incidents, cranes have dropped loads or come close to falling apart, including a dramatic episode in which a crane’s boom nearly snapped off during Superstorm Sandy and dangled precariously over a midtown block near Carnegie Hall.
Source: Associated Press
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