New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan Sunday to improve the safety of crane operations in the city after a crane collapse in Tribeca Friday morning killed a pedestrian and injured several others.
Workers with Bay Crane Services, which operates about a quarter of all the cranes in New York City, were in the process of lowering the boom on the 565-foot long structure into the safety position as a precaution against 20 mph winds when the collapse occurred.
David Wichs, a 38-year old Harvard graduate and Wall Street worker, was struck and killed by the falling crane as he walked along Worth St., about 10 blocks north of the World Trade Center.
Mayor de Blasio said that he is forming a task force to evaluate the accident over the next three months. The panel will make recommendations for safety improvements based on its findings, the mayor said. In the meantime, Mayor de Blasio introduced a plan to improve crane safety more immediately by mandating that workers lower cranes into safety mode when high winds are forecast and to send out advisories when cranes like the one that collapsed Friday are being lowered for safety purposes under windy conditions.
The plan also calls for the Department of Buildings to more than double the fine for crane operators that don’t comply with safety regulations and proposes better safety protections for pedestrians during a time of increased construction.
“No building is worth a person’s life. We are going to ensure the record boom in construction and growth does not come at the expense of safety,” the mayor said in a statement.
The collapse remains under investigation, but the mayor said that “the crew working on this crane was doing exactly as they were supposed to do at that time.”
However, it remains unclear why the experienced 56-year-old operator lost control of the crane as it was being lowered. The control cab reportedly flipped upside down when the boom fell.
The crane was being used to replace air conditioning equipment and generators to the roof of 60 Hudson St., a 425-foot-tall Jazz Age skyscraper. The Department of Buildings said that an inspection of the crane revealed no problems, but it would investigate the possibility of a malfunction further.
The collapse prompted emergency workers to check the area for potential gas leaks, while buildings near the collapsed crane were evacuated as a precaution.