In response to the two fatal crane accidents in New York City, the State Legislature has made it a crime for a crane inspector to file a false crane inspection. See A1050/S7602. Governor Patterson has signed the bill into law.
The bill creates a criminal penalty when a crane inspector falsifies an applicant’s licensing exam or an inspection report. This is a Class D Felony. Violators can also be subject of civil penalties of $1,000 to $5,000 per offense.
The law came about in the aftermath of the fatal crane crash of March 15, 2008, where it was discovered that a Department of Buildings inspector allegedly falsified records claiming that he inspected the deadly crane on March 4th and found it to be safe. In a different incident, a high ranking inspector was charged in June with illegally assisting crane operators with their licensing exams.
The law is intended to be a deterrent against government inspectors from filing phony inspections. It takes effect November 1, 2008.
We applaud this effort to reform the inspection process. The two crane crashes showed that the Building Department was lax in its inspections. However, we still feel that the threat of a liability lawsuit against the building owner and the general contractor is the strongest deterrent against negligence. In other words, the costs of liability lawsuits and the high cost of insurance act as the best deterrent for careless conditions at construction sites. Lawsuits (or the threat of lawsuits) help make construction sites safe. See our story on the March crane collapse here.
Mark E. Seitelman, 8/7/08, www.seitelman.com.