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Deadly TriBeCa Crane Crash Caused by Operator's Safety Failures: Feds

By Irene Plagianos | September 13, 2016 3:26pm
 A crane collapsed at 40 Worth St. Friday morning, officials said.
A crane collapsed at 40 Worth St. Friday morning, officials said.
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LOWER MANHATTAN — The operator of the 565-long crane that crashed in TriBeCa, killing two people in February, had no policy to to ensure proper use of the crane in high winds, and was violating manufacturer protocols at the time of the incident, federal safety investigators found.

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety & Health Administration hit Galasso Trucking & Rigging with two "serious" violations, issued on Aug. 3, related to the deadly crash along two city blocks on Feb. 5, ABC News first reported.

Inspectors found that Galasso exposed employees to "hazards associated with crane failure" because they didn't have policies in place to operate the crane in accordance with the manufacturers' protocols, according to OSHA violation documents.

Wind gusts had already reached 25 mph by the time officials began to lower the crawler crane the day of the incident — sending the massive crane plummeting down onto Worth Street between West Broadway to Church Street during the morning rush hour. David Wichs, a mathematician from the Upper West Side, was fatally crushed and three others were seriously injured.

The crane model has since been banned from city streets by the Department of Buildings, but can still be used on non-street construction sites — on condition that the winds are below 20 mph.

The Department of Labor said that the "operator and competent person did not adjust the operations to address wind and snow" at the time of the crash and, more specifically, the "manufacturers procedures were not followed because the boom angle was lowered below 75 degrees, to 69.4 degrees."

Galasso has been fined a total of $22,448 for the two violations.

According to Department of Labor records, Galasso, a Queens-based company, is contesting the violations.

Galasso officials did not immediately return request for comment.

DOB has also taken other measures to tighten crane safety in the city, including requiring that all crawler cranes have a lift director on site 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.

The DOB said that its investigation of the crane collapse "is ongoing and includes factors other than unsafe work practices, which was OSHA’s primary focus."