A group of New York City–area construction trade associations have filed suit against the New York City Department of Buildings and Richard Chandler, its commissioner, to halt enforcement of what the groups called "arbitrary and capricious crawler crane safety requirements," according to Construction Equipment Guide.
The organizations, which are all members of the Building Trades Employers Association, claimed that the city went overboard in tightening its crane regulations after a deadly February accident and that the new rules make crane operations less safe.
- The group noted in its legal challenge that the city did not solicit industry input when it was drafting the regulations, which could negatively affect schedules and drive up costs.
Cranes have been at the forefront of New York City safety discussions since two March 2008 accidents resulted in fatalities and, in one case, the charge that an inspector lied about having inspected the crane a few days before it collapsed. Wind gusts of 30 mph, which is the point crawler cranes are now required to suspend operations, occur frequently on New York City job sites, according to the BTEA.
Investigators have determined that the cause of the February case, which killed one pedestrian and injured three others, was operator error, according to The Real Deal. However, the new crane regulations — which also include higher fines, a crane-use notification system and pedestrian safety plan — were instituted prior to that finding. After the collapse, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio put together a crane-safety working group to make suggestions for changes to the DOB's existing policies. It advised the city to start the process of eliminating older cranes and require new ones to be outfitted with anemometers, black boxes and GPS tracking capabilities, all subject to daily inspections — in addition to recommendations regarding wind-speed use limitations.
The BTEA group argued that none of the members of the mayor's working group had experience with crane operation, maintenance or design. When the working group made its initial report in June, industry organizations said the constant raising and lowering of booms was itself inherently dangerous. Experts called on by the group said that the point at which cranes should cease operations due to wind speed should be left up to the operator, on-site safety professionals and the manufacturer.