Miami-Dade Passes County Crane Oversight Ordinance

The Miami-Dade County Commission passed a measure calling for county oversight of cranes and their operators on Tuesday. The unanimous vote by the Florida board counters the efforts by the Florida Crane Owners Council and other groups that have been working toward creating a uniform statewide certification process. The ordinance also has many in the industry concerned about the possibility of differing county crane regulations throughout the state.

The Miami-Dade County regulation, drawn up by Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, would require crane operator certification and have the county building department set an inspection schedule. She began campaigning for the regulation after a crane worker's April 2006 death at a downtown Miami condo construction project. A week after the accident, the commissioner organized a committee of industry experts to create an approach to regulation.

Rep. Greg Evers of Milton, Fla., was quoted by The Miami Herald as saying that because Miami “jumped the gun,” crane operators could be jeopardized if each of Florida's 67 counties adopts its own regulations. Members of the state's crane industry are just as concerned. “We stressed to the media afterwards that this was a safety-driven measure taken on by the local municipality,” said Bruce Whitten, who chairs the Florida Crane Owners Council. “We dread that 66 more counties will do the same unless measures are undertaken at the state level to pre-empt this language. Imagine 67 different laws across the state that everyone will have to deal with."

Evers, who has authored legislation calling for a statewide standard, told The Miami Herald he is appalled that the county commission hadn't consulted with him so that he could have tried to fold it into what he was doing. “We could have reached a compromise,” Evers said. However, Edmondson urged the state to use her county's ordinance as a starting point for a Florida certification program.

Whitten called Tuesday's action by the country commission a “knee-jerk vote” prompted by last Saturday's deadly crane accident in New York. He said the ordinance now goes to the mayor who has the option of vetoing it. “South Florida should be prepared for this ordinance to go into effect within 10 days for all new construction sites,” he said. “Existing sites will have to comply by July 1, 2009, and crane operator certification shall be enforced by Jan. 1, 2011.”