New York City’s Department of Buildings has blocked Long Island City based United Crane and Rigging from carrying out crane work on 22 job sites within its jurisdiction, following two serious incidents in the past four months.
In the first a large mobile crane counterweight section was dropped as it was being installed on April 13th, causing fatal crush injuries to one of the crane riggers, while another man was injured. That incident is still under investigation.
This was followed by a second crane incident on July 30th, when the boom of a Manitex truck crane buckled, apparently due to overloading – the five section boom was fully extended and topped by a long extension. It was lifting steel beams, apparently weighing more than 2,000kg,(4,400 lbs) and yet the crane’s maximum capacity in this configuration is 1,650kg (3,700lbs). The top section of the boom buckled causing the load to strike the side of the occupied building before falling to the ground.. Thankfully no one was injured in the incident.
The Department of Buildings claim that the same team – from job planners to engineers, riggers and lift directors - were the same on both jobs and it is demanding that they be replaced, before it can resumed work. In a letter to United, the Department is asking the company to provide documentation that it has replaced its engineer of record, master rigger, lift director, assembly and disassembly and hoisting machine operators. It also states that it should hire an independent monitor to provide the Department with monthly safety compliance reports. It has also filed five violations against United, including failure to designate a qualified and competent lift director, failure to make proper notifications, inadequate safety measures on site, failure to safeguard the construction site and failure to have proper construction documents on site. The violations carry penalties that add up to a total of $110,000.
United has declined to comment on the action by the Department of Buildings, or specifically on the two incidents, which are both part of ongoing investigations.