February 1, 2017 • Workers' Compensation
Last February, a 38-year-old was killed while walking to work when a crane collapsed. There were 40 MPH winds on the day of the crane collapse as a storm approached. The crash is under investigation, but in light of the tragic incident, new regulations were put into place in order to try to reduce the chances of a serious accident involving cranes on construction sites. In addition to new regulations being added, an old city law dating back to 1968 also started to be enforced whereas before the rule was mostly ignored.
Now, construction groups want the enforcement of the rule to end, and want to overturn the new crane safety rule. They have filed a lawsuit and, if they are successful at getting the rules changed, workers could face additional risks of crane accidents on construction sites. Any worker who is harmed by a crane, or family members of workers killed by a crane, must understand what legal rights they have to receive workers’ comp injury or death benefits. A New York workers’ compensation law firm should be consulted for help.
Construction groups who are arguing against the new crane safety rules, and the enforcement of the old rules, include trade organizers and unions. They have filed papers in Manhattan Supreme Court questioning the reasoning behind the regulations.
The old city rule they are attacking is a rule that prevents cranes from being operated if there are winds of 30 MPH or greater. The lawsuit asserts that the NY Department of Buildings does not have a valid scientific basis for the rule because they can “point to no engineering or scientific study and no other municipal, state or national regulatory scheme that has found that crawler crane operations somehow become unsafe at 30 mph and, by inference, are safe at 29 mph.”
Although the 30 MPH ban on crane use has been on the books for decades, the construction group wants the rule changed now because it is being enforced in the wake of the crane collapse, whereas it was largely ignored before despite remaining in effect. The construction groups assert that this rule, and other newly passed regulations, are needlessly interfering with construction businesses while not actually having any positive impact on workplace safety.
A representative for the Department of Buildings has indicated the DOB intends to fight both for the 30 MPH ban and for other new regulations aimed at stopping accidents involving cranes. The DOB representative told New York Daily News: “The city’s crane rules are there to protect people’s lives. Cranes should not be operating in high winds.”
Whether the rule is changed or not, crane accidents will remain a substantial risk for workers. If an incident occurs, Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff should be consulted in order to bring a claim for workers’ comp benefits on behalf of the injured worker or on behalf of the family members of a worker who has been killed.