SafetyNews - 6
New York City Crane Collapse


Saturday, 15 March 2008

Crane collapses in Manhattan, New York

A large crane at a construction site collapsed in an affluent neighborhood in New York on Saturday afternoon, killing four construction workers and injuring 18 others.

The crane was attached to the side of a skyscraper under construction. It broke into pieces as it fell. The collapse devastated the affluent block on Manhattan's East Side: Cars were overturned and crushed. A huge dust cloud rose and rubble was piled several stories high.

The rubble removal is a difficult hand operation, so as to avoid causing further collapse or injuring anyone who may still be trapped in the debris. Search dogs, thermal-imaging and listening devices are being used to detect survivors.

About 19 of the planned 43-story condominium had been erected, and the crane was scheduled to be extended Saturday so workers could start work on a fresh story.

Immediate cause seems to be that a piece of steel fell and sheared off one of the ties holding the crane to the building, causing it to detach and topple -- truly a "freak' (completely unpredictable) accident.

Neighborhood residents said they had complained to the city several times about the construction at the site, saying crews worked illegal hours and the building was going up too fast.

City officials said they had issued 13 violations to the site in the last 27 months, a normal amount for a project of that size. Inspectors examined the crane Friday and found nothing wrong with it.

A city inspector visited the site and determined on March 6 that no violation was warranted.

The collapse comes amid a building boom in New York City and follows a spate of construction accidents in recent months, including some involving cranes.


19 March 2008

Authorities investigate New York Crane Collpase

On the front-page of its Metro Section, the New York Times (3/19, B1, Neuman, Otterman) reports on "Saturday's collapse of a towering construction crane on the East Side of Manhattan," which killed seven people, "six of them construction workers." The probe "into the cause continued Tuesday. The crane's 200-foot-tall tower fell as workers were preparing to attach it with steel struts to the 18th floor of a building under construction at 303 East 51st Street, near Second Avenue." According to a Buildings Department official, "the I-beam that landed in the town houses appeared to have been one of the struts that was in the process of being connected to the tower. The falling tower may have acted as a catapult, tossing the heavy beam into the air."

        In a related article on the front-page of Tuesday's Metro Section, the New York Times (3/18, B1, Neuman) added that a prime suspect "is a $50 piece of nylon webbing that investigators suspect may have broken while hoisting a six-ton piece of steel." A photograph "shows the yellow nylon sling ragged at the end like a child's broken shoelace, indicating, according to experts, the immense force that may have torn it apart."

        New York Public Radio, WNYC (3/18, Schuerman) added that, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "most construction fatalities in New York City involve non-union workers for whom language and immigration status were complicating circumstances." Still, "none of those factors appear to apply to the East Side construction site where a crane fell Saturday afternoon," as a couple of the workers "who died had fathers who worked in the construction industry. The crew included a licensed master rigger, in accordance with a new safety requirement enacted last summer." Meanwhile, "city inspectors will embark on a sweep of all crane sites later this week to ensure compliance with building codes."

        New York's NY 1 News-TV (3/18, Shaughnessy) quoted nearby residents and those who work near the site as saying "they are worried about the safety of the building where the crane collapsed." NY 1 News-TV continued, "Workers planned to pour concrete on Tuesday and there are dozens of pieces of wood lying on the upper floors. Construction workers tell NY1 that much of that wood is loose, not tied down and that a strong wind could make them fall over two or three blocks. Residents are unnerved." The UPI (3/19) also covers the story.

Sources: Various items on the internet, with thanks.
For more details, click on this line for cnn.com