Following last week’s fatal crane accident, which killed one and injured others, the city has announced new immediate improvements to ensure all New Yorkers are kept safe.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday a four-point plan, which will take into effect starting Monday, that will increase safety when large cranes are operating.
Just before 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 5 a crew at a construction site on Worth Street in downtown Manhattan were lowering a crane due to high winds. The crawler crane toppled over, killing 38-year-old David Wichs and crushing a line of parked cars.
A funeral was held on Sunday for Wichs, who worked as a financial trader on Wall Street and was remembered as an “extraordinary” and humble man, CBS New York reported. Four other people who were injured during the collapse were taken to the hospital and have since been released.
According to the mayor, the crew at the site “were doing exactly what they were supposed to do” and decided to not work on the site but instead secure the crane.
“Given what happened here it is extraordinary that there was not more damage,” de Blasio said. “Something of a miracle occurred… but despite that fact there is much we need to know and learn from this incident.”
He added that the Department of Buildings (DOB) visited the scene the day before the collapse to approve measures and everything "seemed to be proper" and no high winds were reported for the followng day during the inspection.
A full investigation is currently underway to review everything that happened on the morning of Feb. 5. Parts of the investigation are expected to take weeks, while some elements could take several of months, de Blasio said.
And although the cause of the accident is still being investigated, new measures will be put into effect to prevent any future tragedies.
There will be new restrictions on crawler cranes starting on Feb. 8 requiring crews to cease operation and go into “safety mode” whenever steady winds are forecast to go over 20 mph or gusts to exceed 30 mph. The DOB will send advisories to engineers when those conditions are issued and engineers must certify the advisory with the agency. Any crane engineers that fail to do so will result in violations and the DOB will raise base penalties from $4,800 to $10,000.
The NYPD, FDNY, DOB and Department of Transportation will also increase enforcement of sidewalk and street closures when any crane activity occurs. The DOT will require there be pedestrian traffic managers during projects that operate large cranes in areas that see a lot of pedestrian traffic. The DOB will also conduct inspections and issue any violations when personnel are not “appropriately restricting pedestrian and vehicular traffic.”
Operators will also be required to notify residents and businesses in an area before moving a crane. At the moment, crane operators are required to notify only when the crane gets installed.
Finally, the city has created a new task force to create future strategies that will improve crane safety, the mayor said. In the next 90 days, the team will evaluate the conditions surrounding Friday’s crane collapse and propose better practices and regulations “to make New York’s cranes the safest in the world.”
“No building is worth a person’s life. We are going to ensure the record boom in construction and growth does not come at the expense of safety,” de Blasio said.