Last Friday, a near-600 foot crane owned by Bay Crane collapsed on Worth Street in Tribeca around 8:00am. According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the crane was in the process of being lowered when it collapsed.
Attorney David Perecman was reached for comment on the Worth Street Crane Collapse, in an interview that was broadcast by MetroFocus PBS. Perecman says that, while we know wind played a factor, the investigation into the exact cause is ongoing.
At the time of the collapse, winds were nearing 25mph. The high winds prompted the construction crew to cease work and lower the crane. The collapse happened during this process.
Just two days after the Worth Street Crane Collapse, Mayor de Blasio announced new safety measures that would reduce the wind-speed threshold for operating equipment like cranes. The new protocols, which went into effect Monday February 8, require cranes to stop operating if either of the following apply:
- There is a forecast for consistent winds of 20mph or higher, or a forecast for wind gusts of 30mph or higher;
- Actual wind speed readings reach at least 20mph or gusts of 30mph.
Before the changes announced Monday, safety mode for cranes would not have been initiated until wind speeds reached 30mph or gusts reached 40mph.
“This crane was being brought down at the time because of wind, but what if it had been brought down the day before because they knew that wind was coming?” asked Perecman. “This accident probably would not have happened, so there is a question of whether we are doing enough.”
Another provision of the new regulations following the collapse requires uniformed personnel, such as police officers, to monitor construction sites and ensure compliance. There is also an increased fine to accompany the new restrictions: $10,000 for failing to take appropriate precautions.
If last year is any indication, these new restrictions are likely to put crawler cranes out of commission for potentially 40 days of the year. In 2015, wind restrictions only prevented crawler cranes from operating seven days of the year.
Perecman explained the constant balance that regulators try to achieve. On one hand, they want to let contractors and developers do their job. On the other hand, they want to keep people safe. Because of this give-and-take, Perecman believes regulations may not always be as tight as they should be. In many cases, regulations happen reactively, such as in this case.
When asked if there is truly a “crisis,” as the City Comptroller has said, Perecman said that “crisis” would indicate ongoing, frequent accidents of this nature, which is not the case. However, he said, there have been other crane collapses in New York City in recent years. In fact, Carissa Peebles of The Perecman Firm was recently quoted in a New York Post article that recounted at least two other serious incidents involving Bay Crane specifically just within the past year.
While it may not qualify as a crisis, Perecman says it is “more accidents than we should be hearing of.”