Changes to Crane Safety Regulations
September 13, 2017
Cranes are one of the largest pieces of equipment on a construction site and thus present a greater risk to construction workers, site visitors, and even passersby. Recent crane accidents that caused fatal injuries have prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to strengthen their regulations for cranes. Opposition from some inside the industry, however, may delay the rule’s implementation.
Tougher Regulations in New York
New York City has consistently had significant volume of high-rise construction as the city expands upward. Because of a number of fatal crane accidents in the past 10 years, however, it has become the focus of the push for tougher crane safety regulations. Two crane accidents in March 2008 resulted in multiple fatalities; after one of the construction accidents, it was discovered that an official had falsified an inspection report in the days prior. Another accident in February of 2016 struck a pedestrian near the construction site.
After the accident in 2016, the city took serious steps to improve crane safety. The first was to require cranes to suspend activities when wind-gust conditions reached 30 miles per hour. The Mayor’s advisory board also recommended that the New York City Department of Buildings upgrade all of their cranes to models that include anemometers, black boxes, and GPS tracking. The changes prompted a lawsuit from members of the Building Trades Employers Association, who claimed that the new regulations were too far-reaching and did not include input from industry members.
Postponing Crane Operator Certification Requirement
OSHA also faces challenges with its proposed update for crane operator certification requirements. The existing rule, on hold since 2010, would require crane operators to be certified in a number of areas, including the type of crane and lifting capacity. Industry members want OSHA to remove the lifting capacity requirement, arguing that testing employees on different lifting capacities uses expensive equipment that could be put to better use. Some also believe that employers should be responsible for determining who is fit to operate a crane, rather than OSHA.
Updated certification requirements were set to go into effect in November 2017, but OSHA is saying they need even more time to review possible changes. OSHA has assembled a panel of industry members, who have conflicting opinions on whether a 12-month extension is needed. The change in the Presidential administration is further complicating matters; OSHA was set to issue a clarification in late 2016 but postponed the announcement due to proposed reductions in regulation.
Until a decision is reached, it is up to construction companies to ensure that crane operators are qualified and that all safety precautions are being taken. Although necessary for certain types of construction, cranes are extremely dangerous not just to those on a construction site, but anyone within its range in the event of a collapse. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a crane, an experienced construction accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Fight for Rights of Crane Accident Victims
Our Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have the knowledge and experience to handle all types of construction accident cases, including crane accidents. Our dedicated team will review the facts of your case and prepare a sound legal strategy to obtain the compensation you deserve. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online for a consultation.