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CIty Crane Regulations Tighten With New Department of Buildings Mandates

 A witness said that the operator was lowering its load when the equipment fell.
A witness said that the operator was lowering its load when the equipment fell.
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DNAinfo/Megan Cerullo

LOWER MANHATTAN — Four months after a deadly crane collapse in TriBeCa, the Department of Buildings has issued a series of new regulations to tighten citywide crane safety, including requiring a "lift director" at the site of each crawler crane.

The DOB announced on Thursday it would adopt several recommendations recently released by the Crane Safety Technical Working Group, a committee appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to examine crane safety after a 565-foot crawler crane smashed down across two city blocks in February, killing one man and injuring several people.

Since the crash, the specific configuration of crawler crane that was used in the accident — a crane that cannot be used when winds gust above 20 m.p.h. — has been banned from city streets. The DOB plans to permanently continue with that ban, but those cranes can still operate on places like empty lots.

But for all crawler cranes, the DOB has ordered that construction sites now must employ a "lift director" to oversee weather conditions and inspections, similar to the "sign-off process that is required before passenger airplanes take off," the DOB said in a statement.

All crawler cranes — cranes that are mounted to massive, mobile tracks — will now need to be equipped with anemometers, devices that measure wind speeds, to allow for real-time monitoring of weather conditions. The lift director would be responsible for ensuring that cranes are not used under certain weather conditions.

Before Thursday's new requirement, the DOB would monitor weather and send out shutdown orders based on citywide conditions — but with the new regulations, the lift director would be responsible for monitoring the specific wind and weather conditions at the construction site.

A spokesperson for the DOB said agency officials would still be monitoring the lift directors.

“DOB is implementing these independent recommendations to make New York’s crane regulations — already the strongest in the country — even more effective," said DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler in a statement. "In the coming weeks, we will be working to enact additional recommendations proposed by the Working Group. The Group’s recommendations are solid, sensible, and doable."

Some in the construction industry, however, have complained the safety restrictions have gone too far.

Bill Shuzman, executive director of Allied Building Metal Industries, an organization that represents  structural steel contractors, told the Wall Street Journal that the new rules were “extremely onerous” and would add daily reports and meetings requirements.

“These rules came about because of that accident in February, yet nobody knows what caused the accident,” he said.

An investigation report into the Feb. 5 crash is expected sometime this fall.

Earlier in June, the Working Group released a set of 23 crane safety regulations, including a recommendation to put an age limit on cranes. The DOB is still looking to enact additional recommendations, but some would require legislative action in City Hall, a DOB spokesman said.