- For the third consecutive year, Seattle tops the nation with 65 tower cranes at the time of this year's analysis, reported The Seattle Times. Mixed-use projects account for 27 cranes, while 17 and 11 are designated for residential and commercial projects, respectively.
- In addition to leading the nation, Seattle also topped its own record with the most cranes it’s had since Rider Levett Bucknall began counting them in 2014. Chicago came in second place with 40 cranes and Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, have the third and fourth most cranes, respectively, at 36 and 30 cranes.
- Seattle’s crane count is still well behind global numbers, though. Dubai has 1,182; Sydney has 346; and Toronto claims North America’s top spot with 97 cranes.
Seattle’s 65-crane record comes just six months after the city’s crane count fell to 45, the lowest number it has seen since July 2015, thanks to several large projects finishing around the same time last year. Downtown Seattle Association data shows new projects have broken ground and abnormally few developments have been completed, all contributing to Seattle’s rise in crane counts.
Crane counts can be volatile, as evidenced by Seattle’s fluctuations, as well as by Chicago’s in the past year. Rider Levett Bucknall’s report had Chicago’s crane count at 40, but in November 2017, Curbed tallied Chicago’s cranes at 60, though that number included smaller cranes and some inactive cranes. The 60 figure was directly related to the city’s high-rise building boom.
Safety, always a paramount concern in construction, is especially important when operating such a hefty piece of equipment. OSHA released a rule in November 2017 extending the crane operator certification deadline to Nov. 10 of this year. The delay has allowed OSHA consider whether crane operators should be certified by crane type and lifting capacity and if certification alone means an operator is qualified.
OSHA proposed a new crane safety rule in May that would cover about 100,000 crane operators and no longer require them to be certified based on lifting capacity. OSHA estimates that removing this requirement would save roughly $25.5 million in certification costs. No mention is made of removing the requirement for operators to be tested on crane type.
All this discussion is aimed at reducing the number of crane-related accidents. A construction crane collapsed in New York City in February 2016, killing one pedestrian. Shortly after the incident, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio implemented a four-point construction crane safety plan.
Technology also is bolstering crane safety efforts. Canadian firm CM Labs Simulation introduced the luffing tower crane training pack, a virtual training program that simulates the controls, functions and challenges of crane operation in dense urban settings. CM Labs claims its simulators can accelerate training and reduce costs by up to 75%.