NY Officials Change Crane Requirements to Advance Tower Crane Safety

Acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri this week announced a series of changes regarding tower crane safety during a testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Educational and Labor Committee in Washington, D.C.

The changes are designed to strengthen maintenance and inspection requirements to advance safety in and around construction sites with tower cranes. Among the changes are new requirements that will establish a history of maintenance and major repairs to critical crane components. This will allow the Buildings Department and responsible parties to easily identify and track risks not readily apparent during visual inspections. In addition, the New York City Buildings Department is expanding the role of the private crane safety coordinator, who will be required to oversee the details of tower crane operations to ensure the required safety and maintenance inspections have been properly completed and recorded. The changes are built on recommendations made during an emergency safety summit following the May 30 crane collapse.

"Continuous maintenance records, consistent labeling for critical crane components, certification that crane parts are in safe operable condition • these tracking systems must be put in place to make tower cranes safer,” said LiMandri. “These changes are a step in the right direction, but there is more work to be done. We will continue to take action as we identify ways for the city and the industry to make cranes safer."

Following the March 15 crane collapse, the Buildings Department launched a full operational overhaul of the cranes and derricks unit, and that process identified a need for a modernized tracking system for tower cranes, their parts, and their maintenance records. The changes announced this week will enhance the city's oversight by mandating additional maintenance inspections, better record keeping, and tracking of tower cranes and their parts. The changes come as the Buildings Department is in the midst of conducting a $4 million analysis of high-risk construction activities, including crane operations, to develop a Construction Analysis and Oversight Plan.

The changes outlined below will be implemented in phases, and over the coming months, the Buildings Department will be working to draft regulatory notices and rules to mandate the changes. The Buildings Department will seek further changes to make cranes safer as the Construction Analysis and Oversight Plan continues.

  • Require Disclosure of the Crane's Condition. Each time a tower crane is transferred from one party to another • whether owner to equipment user, equipment user to owner, or equipment user to equipment user • a safety meeting must now be held to review and document maintenance records and service history. Additionally, the owner will be required to certify in writing that the crane's structural and operating condition meets the manufacturer's guidelines or national standards. This certification will be filed with the Buildings Department by the crane owner each time an application is filed. In addition, each month a tower crane is on a jobsite the construction manager, contractor, relevant sub-contractors, crane operator, crane oiler, and crane owner or designee must review the crane's condition and maintenance logs. This monthly meeting is to be documented in the maintenance log including discussion of the crane's operating and structural conditions, existing deficiencies, and recent maintenance and repair and the owner shall document the meeting with the Department. In addition, every six months that a tower crane is in use, the qualified third party must inspect and re-certify the crane as meeting manufacturer's guidelines or national standard.
  • Mandate Labeling Requirements for Critical Crane Components. The Buildings Department will develop a universal system of labeling each structural component of the crane in order to track it throughout its lifetime. The labeling will include the climbing frame, machine deck, engine, cab, a-frame, turntable, all mast and boom sections and other critical parts. Any component that is not correctly labeled under the Department's guidelines will be disallowed from use until it obtains a proper tracking number. In addition, all maintenance records and repair histories shall include and refer to the particular label of the component piece.
  • Impose Additional Requirements for Testing. The Buildings Department will require suitable testing of critical crane components including but not limited to the climbing frame, machine deck, engine, cab, a-frame, and turntable as well as connections, joints, pins, bolts, tiebacks, and collars. Identification, tracking, testing methods and certification protocols of critical parts will be developed through the recently announced Construction Analysis and Oversight Plan, a $4 million assessment of high-risk construction activities, which includes an examination of crane operations.
  • Institute New Filing and Permitting Requirements. Prior to the issuance of a permit for the installation of any tower crane in New York City, the Buildings Department will require the crane to undergo a review of its maintenance records by a qualified third party. The third party will certify the age of the crane, that repairs have been properly carried out, and that the crane is in good working order, and file this with the Buildings Department.
  • Increase Tower Crane Maintenance / Crane History Record Requirements. The Department will require that all maintenance records for tower cranes-including inspections performed and repairs made by the owner in the crane yard as well as the daily and monthly records kept on the construction site by the equipment user, operator, or maintenance crew-be maintained throughout the lifetime of the crane. In addition, the owner must maintain a service history of the crane, including but not limited to the location of the crane, hours in service, load, and the operator. These records shall be filed with the Buildings Department by the crane owner and updated each time an application is filed for a permit for the particular crane. The Buildings Department will also require that the maintenance records and service history be reviewed by a qualified independent third party engineering consultant each time the crane is transferred to or from an equipment user but not less than once a year.
  • Expand the Role of the Crane Safety Coordinator. While current Buildings Department forms require the designation of a Crane Safety Coordinator, the coordinator's obligations are not specified. Through rule making, the Buildings Department will require the Crane Safety Coordinator to be the operator's designated representative to both document that all required safety and maintenance checks have been made and that safety rules are followed in the erection, operation and dismantling of the crane.
  • Recommend the Proposed OSHA Regulations Are Adopted. The Buildings Department will recommend that the proposed changes made by the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) council on cranes • known as C-DAC • to the existing OSHA regulations be adopted.