NYC releases new wind order regarding crawler cranes

By D.Ann Shiffler30 March 2016

The new order issued by the New York City Department of Buildings requires that wind conditions be m

The new order issued by the New York City Department of Buildings requires that wind conditions be monitored hourly and doesn’t give consideration to the size, capacity or boom length of the crawler c

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) in the USA has issued a new crane order allowing crawler cranes to operate in wind speeds up to 30 mph (49 km/h). But the order, issued on March 15, also contains stipulations that could negatively impact crane operations.

The regulations are a result of a fatal crane incident in Manhattan on February 3 in which a large capacity crawler with close to 600 feet (183 meters) of boom and jib fell to the ground, killing a pedestrian and injuring three people. On February 5, Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all crawler cranes be shut down when winds were forecast to exceed 20 mph (32 km/h) or if gusts exceeded 30 mph.

With the temporary mandate, the DOB established a working group, the Crane Safety Technical Working Group, to review all of the city’s crane rules and make suggestions regarding all crane operations during windy conditions. The updated regulations will remain in place until the Working Group completes its review of crane operations citywide. The Working Group’s review is expected to be completed by late May. The updated regulations:

n Bar from streets any crawler crane that is required by its manufacturer to shut down in winds of less than 20 mph, (such as the configuration of the crane that collapsed).

n Require that a licensed engineer be present for any operation of a crawler crane rated for less than 30 mph winds. The engineer will monitor wind speeds, confirm that cranes are properly secured after work hours, and can shut down crane operations, if needed.

n Prohibit all crane operations whenever winds exceed 30 mph or are forecast to do so. The order states that crawler crane operations must not begin if they cannot be completed in advance of the specified wind thresholds, and it requires that contractors and equipment users monitor forecasts and weather conditions constantly during the work day. Wind speeds must be measured based on the nearest National Weather Service reporting station or an anemometer located at the jobsite, freely exposed to the wind, and calibrated in accordance with ASTM D5096-02, 2011.

“Our company is not opposed to new regulations to ensure safe worksites,” said a local industry source. “Safety is the key focus of every job we do. And while I certainly understand the City’s need to respond to the terrible tragedy, we are concerned about the additional obligations placed on the industry by the latest order.”

Daily wind reports

The order requires the crane operator to check the forecast for winds and create a daily report certifying the exact position he left the boom and jib at the end of each shift, including references to the manual page that specifies the out-of-service position, even if winds are not predicted to be near critical thresholds, the source said.

“This means an e-mail record must be produced and sent to the City each and every time a crane is started and stopped during the course of the day and at the close of each shift. The reporting and notification requirements are quite burdensome and will most likely result in hundreds of needless e-mails being sent to the Department,” said the source.

What’s more, the provisions are mandated for all crawler cranes, not just higher capacity crawlers with long booms. Smaller cranes may have different manufacturer recommendations for safe operations working in wind.

Since the temporary order was issued, the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association has been in contact with the DOB, New York City crane owners and crane manufacturers. On March 7, SC&RA sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio asking for representation on the Working Group. SC&RA received an invitation from Commissioner Rick Chandler, P.E., to join the Crane Rules Advisory Committee and “participate in its important discussions with the Working Group.”

“SC&RA supports the Building Department’s efforts to promote safer crane operations and are encouraged that the Working Group will be consulting and collaborating with the Advisory Committee in the development of the final rules for cranes operating within the city,” said SC&RA Vice President Beth O’Quinn. “Whenever new rules are imposed at the local, state or federal level, it is imperative to ensure they are fair, viable and equitable for all involved. Our goal is to ensure practical industry input is given serious consideration by the Working Group when drafting the final rules.”

See the full Commissioner’s order at

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