Christine Quinn criticizes safety conditions at crane collapse site

A crane collapsed at the 7 line extension at 34th Street and 11th Avenue.
JEREMY SPARIG/METRO

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said today that the construction site where a crane killed a worker should have been safer.

The construction worker was killed Tuesday night after a crane collapsed at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, where the MTA is building the 7 train extension project. Four other workers were also injured.

At a press conference by the site, Quinn cautioned that the reasons behind the crane collapse are so far unknown, and she is awaiting results from a Department of Buildings investigation.

But she said city officials found troubling safety problems at the site after the incident.

One problem, she said, was a walkway over the construction pit of the site that was not secured properly, potentially endangering workers walking above the construction.

This would have been a violation under city law, she said, but because the MTA is a state agency, it is instead beholden to state safety laws.

“That is quite simply wrong,” Quinn said.

The MTA should agree to give the city oversight at their projects, she said, which also include the Second Avenue subway line.

“This must happen immediately because, literally, lives are at stake,” she said.

Another example, Quinn noted, was that under city law, the MTA would have been required to submit an engineer’s report before using the crane, detailing what it would be used for, where on the site the crane would operate and how it would be secured and inspected.

Also, unlike city projects, where officials can drop by for an inspection any time, officials must be invited on site at MTA projects, Quinn said.

The Port Authority, in contrast, is a state agency but submits to city regulations, Quinn added.

The MTA responded to Quinn’s assertions tonight, saying they were examining her suggestion. They added that the city already inspects all cranes, including the one in Tuesday’s incident, which had a report of “no deficiencies.” 

Another Department of Buildings inspection for the crane had been scheduled to be today, the MTA added.

From the MTA statement:

On July 14, 2011, the NYC Department of Buildings performed an annual inspection of the crane. Its written report indicated “No Deficiencies” at the top of the first page, and finished with the conclusion “No deficiencies found on crane at time of inspection.”  

On January 10, 2012, the NYC Department of Buildings attempted to inspect the crane. This was done to change the month of the annual inspection cycle from July to February. The inspection report again indicated “No Deficiencies” at the top of the first page. However, because the crane was in operation during the inspection, a three-month extension was issued by the NYC Department of Buildings. The notation at the end of the form reads, “crane cannot be laid down to inspect boom section, safetys only checked, ok to issue 3 month extenstion” (sic). The NYC Department of Buildings informed the MTA that the follow-up inspection was scheduled to be completed tomorrow, April 5, 2012.  

The MTA has asked the NYC Department of Buildings to investigate the cause of the crane collapse and is cooperating fully with its investigation. 


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