In 2008, a crane collapsed in New York City, killing seven people and tearing a path of destruction through midtown Manhattan. It was one of the worst construction accidents in recent New York City history. Just days after the crane accident, city officials announced that there had been a major arrest in the case. A city inspector had been charged with falsifying inspection records to show that he had inspected the crane 11 days before the accident, when in fact he had not.
The inspector was put on trial, and earlier this month he was acquitted of all charges stemming from the 2008 crane collapse. He was, however, convicted on six other records-falsification charges related to other inspections. Even during the trial, prosecutors didn’t blame the inspector directly for causing the collapse. Rather, they said that his oversight was indicative of a systemic problem in which inspectors regularly failed to uphold their job duties.
His defense attorneys, on the other hand, argued that he was being used as a scapegoat. They say he was covering for a supervisor when he falsely reported that he had inspected the crane. Apparently that supervisor reported sending the inspector to inspect the crane when, in actuality, the inspector was never dispatched to that particular job site. After another crane collapse just two months later, the supervisor was suspended from his job for “neglect of duty.”
He resigned from his post in July 2008. New York City’s construction workers deserve better than to be victimized by irresponsible city inspectors and poor oversight. Hopefully the City will learn its lessons from this tragedy and will provide safer working condition in the future. Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Mixed verdict in trial of NYC crane inspector,” July 20, 2012. For more information on construction workers’ rights following these types of accidents, please visit our New York City crane accident page.