- The city of Chicago on Tuesday saw the installation of its 60th construction crane so far this year, according to Curbed Chicago.
- The number of cranes is directly related to Chicago's high-rise building boom, and the total is expected to increase soon as three more residential projects are currently underway.
- The crane count could include, however, smaller cranes used to lower their larger counterparts. Other reports, according to Curbed, had the city's active crane count at 33 before this latest installation.
According to a March report from Rider Levett Bucknall North America, Chicago had 31 cranes in use on residential projects — the most out of 12 major U.S. cities through November 2016. Across all project types, the report found, Chicago was second only to Seattle, which had 62 active cranes, 23 of which were being used on residential projects.
Chicago's residential boom follows closely with the Windy City's growing popularity among corporations. With companies like Caterpillar, Kraft Heinz and McDonald's moving their corporate offices to the city, strong employment prospects and growing demand for housing are driving demand in the urban multifamily sector. Chicago is expected to open an estimated 6,500 new apartment units across 33 buildings this year alone.
The more cranes in place, however, the greater the risk of a safety-related mishaps. In 2008, New York City experienced a series of deadly crane accidents that brought into question the city's crane inspection process. However, it wasn't until a February 2016 collapse, which killed a pedestrian and injured three others, that the city implemented a new set of crane safety rules. The new regulations included the mandatory suspension of operations when wind gusts are 30 mph or higher, increased fines for equipment operators operating in an unsafe manner, more pedestrian safeguards near crane sites and a more extensive notification system for buildings near crane operations.
The crane-safety spotlight was on downtown Miami in September when crews did not have time to dismantle about two dozen of them before Hurricane Irma made landfall. Some predicted that the cranes would do major damage to nearby property, but most cranes came through the storm intact, with the rest seeing relatively minor damage. The incident has sparked new debate, however, around tighter crane regulations in Miami-Dade.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lays out a multitude of crane regulations in its construction safety standards, but one has had some trouble getting out of the gate. OSHA was scheduled to start requiring that crane operators be certified but has pushed back that deadline another year.