The New York City Department of Buildings announced interim changes to its inspection protocol regarding tower cranes, the type of crane involved in the accident in Manhattan on March 15, 2008. The changes were a precautionary measure as the department conducted an inspection sweep of all tower cranes, assessed existing safety practices on crane sites, and continued its forensic investigation into the cause of the collapse of the tower crane.

Until further notice, a buildings inspector must be present on a construction site whenever a tower crane is erected or dismantled in New York. Inspectors will look to see that existing practices and proper procedures are being followed and that the required responsible parties are in attendance. Since the recent tower crane collapse, the NYC Buildings Department has not approved any permits for jumping operations, according to the department.

“Tower cranes are highly-engineered structures that present unique challenges both to the operator and workers using them,” said NYC Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster. “While the tragic accident on March 15 was a rare occurrence, we are expanding oversight of cranes as a precautionary measure while we await the findings of our forensic investigation. Any crane operating in an unsafe manner will be shut down immediately.”

At the conclusion of the safety sweep of tower cranes, the Buildings Department said it will focus on the other approximately 220 cranes in operation in New York City. The inspections of these cranes were expected to be completed by the end of May. New protocols for erection, dismantling and jumping tower cranes in New York City are available at www.nyc.gov/html/dob/downloads/pdf/tower_ crane_regulatory.pdf.

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