Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rigger loses his license after ruling calls him responsible for deadly NYC crane collapse

William Rapetti ,  Crane rigger.
By Associated Press

NEW YORK — A rigger who worked on a massive construction crane that collapsed and killed seven people has been stripped of his licenses after an administrative judge said his sloppy work was to blame for the collapse, despite his acquittal on all criminal charges last year, the city Buildings Department said Wednesday.

The license revocation bars William Rapetti from running any cranes or overseeing their assembly in the city, and the judge’s finding that he was responsible for the catastrophe could come into play in the cluster of lawsuits surrounding the collapse.

“We have determined that Mr. Rapetti took shortcuts while erecting the tower crane by using damaged equipment and failing to follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions,” Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said in a statement Thursday. “Those shortcuts sacrificed the safety of the job site and led to horrific consequences.”

Rapetti lawyer Marianne Bertuna said the rigger was very disappointed in the decision and considering fighting it in court to try to get back to the work he’s done since he was 17.

“We stand by our position that Mr. Rapetti has always been one of the safest riggers in New York City,” she said. “It was more than a livelihood for him.”

The crane toppled onto a residential neighborhood in midtown Manhattan in March 2008, killing six construction workers and a tourist, hurting two dozen others, demolishing a four-story town house and damaging other buildings as pieces of the rig flew as far as a block away. Coupled with a second Manhattan crane collapse that killed two people two months later, the disaster raised questions about crane safety around the country, spurring new inspections and other measures from New York to Chicago to Dallas.

Building officials, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and prosecutors have long attributed the March 2008 collapse to the failure of four heavy-duty nylon straps that Rapetti and his crew were using temporarily to fasten an 11,200-pound steel collar around the crane. The straps are known as slings.

Rapetti used half as many straps as the manufacturer called for, didn’t pad them to keep them from fraying against the crane’s metal edges and used a visibly worn sling that ultimately broke, overloading the remaining straps, the officials said. When the straps gave way, the collar plummeted down the nearly 200-foot-tall crane, destabilizing the rig by snapping metal beams that tethered it to the building under construction, they said.

In both the criminal trial and a seven-day administrative hearing this past December, Rapetti’s lawyers argued that he had followed crane industry norms and that the straps weren’t the reason for the collapse. His attorneys pointed to other factors, including the crane’s design, which didn’t anchor it to the ground in the usual way, and bad welding in the tethering beams.

A state Supreme Court judge cleared Rapetti of manslaughter and other charges last July. His was the only criminal trial stemming from that collapse.


  1. Okay, but who is "Louis Lanzano, Crane Rigger" depicted in the attached photo, and what does he have to do with this?

  2. We all know..."RED IS DEAD" WITH SLINGS & HARNESSES. This is for newbie's and Apprentices...general reminder that they have to have eyes in the back of their heads when working in or around any heavy equipment.

    For those enaged in any form of our trade where they are rigging, tagging, slinging & picking anything - they need to use Properly rated/certified slings, harnesses, chains.

    When a sling is improperly rated, worn (dry rot), improperly sized for the load & safety factor, or where the "RED IS DEAD" Final Warning is screaming at you to STOP....don't do it - get the foreman & the steward.

    The sling, harness, chain then needs to be taken out of service...cut them in half & toss them.

    When people get pushed, particularly in this toxic environment and near double dip recession - they do stupid things to stay employed. This is one of them.

    This rigger knew better & it cost people their lives.


  3. Steve Carell???? The40 yr. old virgin?

  4. To Anonymous: Sorry I had the wrong name on the picture, I corrected it, thanks.

    Anonymous said...Okay, but who is "Louis Lanzano, Crane Rigger" depicted in the attached photo, and what does he have to do with this?

  5. Carpenters job; constructing wooden forms for pouring concrete, or erecting scaffolding. If this is your job title, this is all you know. Are you a rigger? Riggers job:
    Riggers help operate machines that move heavy objects including steel plates, bundles of steel rods, drilling towers, platforms, and the heavy construction equipment used to build and take down steel structures. Not what local 157 does exactly, correct? I’m not putting down local 157 at all. But, for people to comment or have opinions on an area of a field they DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING shouldn’t say a word. The people who lost their lives were that mans family. If that man died would you still have such a strong opinion on this topic? You ever take into account that the city had to blame someone other than their own workers (inspectors)... You talk about and think it’s about money for that man? Or he put his own life and his family’s lives in danger for money?? Did anyone of you go to that trial hear anything see any evidence? NO you did not. Don’t say anything you do not know. Karma; remember that.

    Oh wait maybe karma already hit you. Posting this article at 4am eh? Were you going to work or heading to the hall to find a job?
    Worry about your own life.

  6. Union Carpenters enagaged in heavy highway & civil projects swing gang forms, wood & steel falsework etc.

    Union Carpenters build post & beam buildings, have journeyman upgrade classes for signaling cranes, get certified and licensed to operate lulls etc.

    When Superintendents & Foreman who do not repsect the rules pull the macho bullshit of how they have "been doing it for 20,30, 40 years" and scream at a man to get it done etc., that's when people get killed. When the Safety personnel or a Sub's foreman are intimidated by the macho b.s and back down, right there he won the battle and set the stage for more of the same for the duration of the project.

    Translation past the Corporate spin that "Safety is priority One" is in reality that the "Project Schedule" shall rule and Safety shall take a back seat to the true priorty - getting the Owner into the building and generating revenue for them as quickly as possible.

    Everything stated was true. When the Safety Personnel (first line of defense on any project) fail to do their jobs, or when they back off after correcting someone for using the wrong equipment as previously noted, people get maimed and Killed!

    Subcontractors routinely hire 2nd & 3rd tier level sub's of their own for picks & lifts (AHU's, chillers, Switchgear etc). Given the ridiculous scheduling today, once the critical path players get their Safety Plan Submittal approved - they typically end up in a drawer or on a shelf collecting dust. They get ignored, people slack and become complacent, till the inevitable occurs.

    Vigilance is warranted and the prior message was a heads up to apprentices, the very people prone to becoming a victims because people like you want to get all macho, puff your chest and yell and scream at people.

    OSHA can be brought aboard early in the project and throughout its duration without penalty. Regular participation via that format saves lives, as all the GC's, Sub's, on site Safety personnel become more vigilant.

    When they become more vigilant and pass that along to every trade on the Project and when it is backed up and enforced by management - accident, injury and death rates go down. The Contractors insurance mod's go down as well, making them more competitive.

    It is quite obvious you do not have a clue about the big picture, which is sending every Man and Woman home at the end of the day who reported to work, every Trade, every day This is not limited to Carpenters.

    It is also quite obvious you do not fully comprehend the entire scope of what union Carpenters actually do.

    Are you now claiming that the City fabricated evidence?

    The man with the last & final say on whether to make the pick used the wrong equipment. He had the authority to say no were it the wrong equipment, worn, damaged and/or improperly sized and rated.

    He chose to go foward nevertheless, so he is culpable for his decision.

    No one said he did this with any intent. Quite sure the intent was to get the job done, as we are always pushed to do by GC's & cost conscious Owners & Developers.

    However, when the decision involves Life or Death - you don't cross that line because some loudmouth starts screaming or swearing at you. He should have stopped the operation. End of story.

    Save your veiled threats for someone else. You will not intimidate me one iota.

  7. Anonymous: Ditto,very well said, "Safety is priority One."


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