Getting a Recovery in a Construction Accident Case; the City Issues New Crane and Construction Rules


  New York City has issued new rules concerning the raising and lowering of construction cranes.  See The New York Times, September 20, 2008, p. B3, story here.

These rules have been a response to the two deadly crane incidents this last Spring.  See our prior post here.

Representatives of the construction industry feel that the rules will hurt the industry.  They say that it will result in as many as 2,400 union workers losing work temporarily.

One of the most significant changes is that an engineer or the crane manufacturer must provide detailed plans as to the rising and lowering of the crane at construction job.  Also a licensed professional engineer must certify the work; this is now done by a licensed master rigger under the supervision of a professional engineer.

The construction industry feels that this is unworkable.  They claim that engineers would be reluctant to certify the rigging work because they may be liable for any problems that arose even thought the engineers would have no control over how the rigging crew at the scene operated.  Generally, an engineer does not supervise directly the work of the riggers.

As a construction accident attorney, I see no problem with this provision which seeks to make cranes safer.  I do not see all liability falling on an engineer.  If the rigging company fails to follow the engineer’s orders, then the rigger would have the lion’s share of liability. 

Also, I do not foresee a problem in owners and general contractors locating reputable engineering firms with the experience and ability to supervise the raising and lowering a crane.  Indeed, in view of a slowdown in construction, the real estate market, and the New York City economy, I do not foresee major City engineering firms refusing this work.  I also do not see a spike in engineers’ professional liability insurance.

The construction industry has other objections.  I trust that the “kinks” in the new rules will be worked-out over time.

If you have a question about a construction accident, please feel free to call us at 800-581-1434.

Mark E. Seiteman, 9/24/08, www.seitelman.com, letters@seitelman.com.

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