Friday, April 18, 2008

8 NYC Tower Cranes Fail Inspection

AP--A citywide inspection of construction cranes like the one that killed seven people when it toppled last month found that eight of the 29 were not in compliance with safety regulations, the city Department of Buildings said Thursday.

The Buildings commissioner also said that a review found the construction site where the collapse occured was in violation of zoning laws.

Of the eight so-called tower cranes that failed inspection, six had safety-related violations including broken decelerators and missing pins, while two had administrative violations such as not having the proper paperwork.

Seven of the cranes were back in operation after contractors corrected the violations. But a stop-work order remains in effect for a crane at the new Goldman Sachs building in lower Manhattan.

That building, across from ground zero, was the scene of a serious accident in December when a crane's nylon sling ruptured and dropped seven tons of steel onto a construction trailer, injuring an architect.

The Department of Buildings said Thursday that one of three tower cranes at the Goldman Sachs site failed inspection after it was "jumped," or lengthened with a new section, on April 10. Inspectors determined that the collar and tie-ins connecting the crane to the 42nd and 43rd floors had not been installed according to plans.

Tishman Construction Corp. said in a statement that the crane was jumped in accordance with Building Department regulations. It said the stop work order for the crane occurred because of a mix-up with engineering drawings.

The department's safety sweep of tower cranes in the five boroughs was prompted by the March 15 accident that killed seven on Manhattan's East Side. In that incident, a steel collar used to secure the crane to the building came loose as the crane was being jumped, the buildings department said.

"The public can rest assured that the majority of the tower cranes did pass inspection, but our inspectors uncovered eight tower cranes with unacceptable violations," Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said. "The Buildings Department shut down these cranes and required the individuals responsible to immediately address the violating conditions."

One of the cranes that initially failed inspection was at the Trump SoHo hotel-condominium project, where a construction worker plunged 40 stories to his death while helping to pour concrete in January.

When the Trump SoHo crane was inspected on March 21, its beacon light was inoperable and there were hairline cracks in the concrete slab on the 32nd floor near where the crane was secured to the building.

The buildings department had an independent engineering firm test the structural integrity of the concrete slab, and the crane was permitted to return to operation this week.

A spokeswoman for Bovis Lend Lease, the contractor at the Trump SoHo site, said she had no comment.

At a City Coucil hearing on crane safety earlier Thursday, Lancaster said the construction site had been reviewed at various stages of development before the collapse. Earlier this year, the Buildings Department reviewed the zoning code, and found that the building configuration would need to be changed, the department said.

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