NYC Crane Could Be a Major Problem
NYC’s swinging crane could be a major headache for not only the city, but for the general contracting company, Lend Lease, and the owner of the building itself.
The crane broke more than 700-feet above downtown NYC amidst Hurricane Sandy on Monday, bracing those below to wonder how it’s going to come down, and even, when it could come down.
Construction expert Paul Gogulski, who has over 50 years’ experience as a construction engineer, which includes a Project Officer for the New York City School Construction Authority, shared his thoughts on a 50-ton safety hazard lifelessly hanging 70 stories high.
Who is to blame for this?
Mr. Gogulski sites below plenty of people are to blame, and furthermore, NYC, which has some of the strictest construction standards in America, may not take this case lightly given its experience on dealing with safety hazards.
“The general contractor has prime responsibility,” Mr. Gogulski said. “Occasionally, the general contractor will attempt to transfer risk to the crane supplier or subcontractor who also have some responsibility for safety. This almost always never works.
“In this case, the easy fix was to recognize the hazard of additional tie-offs required attributable to the high winds from the storm. The general contractor usually employees a Director of Safety who has site specific responsibilities. In addition, the Project Superintendent, who works for the General Contractor, is the prime person responsible for walking the site daily looking for ‘hazards’ and taking appropriate action.
“This crane is a unique hazard, and one that a competent person would recognize as requiring the services of a structural engineer to insure sufficient strength is used in the event of failure from one or more temporary tie-offs.”
Another factor that makes this issue of critical importance is the fact that NYC has been successful in obtaining “criminal” prosecution on both owners and contractors who fail to comply with OSHA and NYC standards on cases wherein death or serious injury occurs.
“I was employed as Project Officer for the New York City School Authority at the time when a brick, which was used to hold down the plastic cover of materials stored on the roof of a school under construction, flew off during high winds and killed a student walking below,” Mr. Gogulski said. “This was the first time in the history of New York that a student suffered death attributable to a safety hazard during construction. As a result, it is my understanding that both the Project Officer and the Project Superintendent suffered jail time in addition to termination.
“Thank God it was not one of my projects.”
For ways to safely remove the crane, Gogulski suggested possibly a helicopter on a very calm do take away pieces of the crane. Instead, the crane will have to be pieced together and delicately lowered.
PHOTO CREDIT: Susan Aranson
Post by Paul Gogulski