NYC Crane Operators Could Get License Without Prior City Experience

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering a proposed new rule that eliminates the requirement that all large crane operators must run cranes as apprentices in the city for three years before getting their license, according to the New York Daily News.

After the Buildings Department regulation was unveiled at a Feb. 13 hearing, a debate over safety erupted between crane workers union and big developers. Operating Engineers Local 14 warned that crane operators who’ve never run the giant machines in the city could endanger city residents.

Big developers, represented by the Real Estate Board of New York, say the change is safe and will make hiring more flexible and less costly. The proposed new rules require two years of prior apprenticeship experience, but that can take place in any “urban area of comparable density.”

In the coming weeks, Mayor Bloomberg will have to decide whether the city training requirement is necessary.

The change is a belated response to two separate crane accidents in 2008. One woman on the ground and eight construction workers died in those wrecks. Mechanical problems and shoddy oversight were blamed, and the owner of one of those cranes is currently on trial facing criminal charges in Manhattan.

The question of crane safety resurfaced last month when a tower crane dropped a huge load of steel 40 stories outside Four World Trade Center.