Washington state reviewing inspection process, certification

15 April 2008

Tower crane safety and operator certification is a hot issue in Washington after an accident in Bellevue, WA in November and subsequent inspections revealed structural problems on additional machines. In late December, state legislators and government officials attended a meeting on crane safety hosted by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (WDLI), which has been investigating the tower crane accident in Bellevue.

In late November, after a 210 foot tower crane collapsed and crashed into a nearby apartment building, killing a man and damaging three buildings, the WDLI issued an advisory that asked contractors to inspect tower cranes working in the state. As a result of voluntary inspections, a tower crane in Bellevue was dismantled from a high-rise jobsite after inspections revealed cracks in a portion of the tower.

A few weeks later, workers repaired a 225 foot tower crane on another jobsite in Bellevue after an inspection revealed a crack near the top of the tower, according to published news reports. The Seattle media reported that two additional tower cranes in Bellevue had been shut down due to structural concerns after inspections.

Like most states, Washington does not inspect construction cranes for safety, assigning that task to contractors, and certification of crane operators is not required.

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