February 7, 2016 / 9:58 PM / 3 years ago

New York steps up efforts on crane safety after deadly collapse

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday unveiled a series of new policies governing the use of construction booms in the United States’ largest city, after a deadly crane collapse in Manhattan highlighted the need for additional safety measures.

A construction crane is seen on top of cars along the street in downtown Manhattan in New York, February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A massive “crawler” crane being used to lift equipment into a building in the Tribeca neighborhood toppled over on Friday during a swirling snowstorm, killing a man who worked in the neighborhood, injuring three others and crushing a line of cars parked in the street. Investigators are looking into the cause of the accident.

“No building is worth a person’s life. We are going to ensure the record boom in construction and growth does not come at the expense of safety,” de Blasio said in a statement announcing four policies aimed at improving safety.

The city will now require contractors to stop operating “crawlers” whenever meteorologists forecast steady winds of higher than 20 miles per hour (32 km per hour) and gusts of more than 30 miles mph (48 kph). More than 300 non-stationary crawler cranes were operating in the city last week, the mayor said.

Officials said it was unclear whether high winds played a role in the accident during Friday’s morning rush, when the moderate snowstorm was moving across the city. The mayor would not rule out the weather, the equipment or any other factor as the cause, and said it would not be fair of him to speculate.

De Blasio said the city would also step up efforts to protect pedestrians in areas where cranes are operating and to notify residents and businesses in the vicinity of an operating crane.

Last week, a 38-year-old man was killed when the five-story crane came crashing down on him as he walked down the street. Three others sustained non-life-threatening injuries when falling debris hit them.

De Blasio also announced the formation of a task force to evaluate Friday’s accident and make further recommendations.

The city has come under fire for what critics say has been a slow response to a series of recommendations made by a study commissioned to improve safety at work sites at a time when the city is enjoying a surge in construction.

Hours after Friday’s collapse, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released the results of an updated audit that found flaws in the Department of Buildings’ management of those recommendations that it had implemented. An initial audit released last year found the city had adopted only a fraction of the recommendations.

In making his case, Stringer cited “at least four significant crane collapses” in the last 2-1/2 years.

Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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