The New York Times‘s article, “In a Crane at 1,100 Feet, There Is No Room for Error” provides the viewpoint of a crane operator atop 1 World Trade Center. It relates what a crane operator does and the dangers of the job.
The point of the story is that crane operators must be extraordinarily careful, well-trained, and calm. The smallest mistake can result in death to not only the crane operator, but other workers.
It is noteworthy that most crane deaths in New York City have occurred due to an equipment failure rather than the operator’s negligence.
Where there is a crane collapse construction workers in New York have a unique source of recovery. Labor Law 240 (1) makes the building owner/developer and the general contractor liable in the event of a crane failure. The owner and contractor are strictly liable where the crane was unsafe.
The Labor Law has proven to be a valuable source of recovery for injured construction workers, especially the surviving family in the event of an operator’s death. Unfortunately, corporate interests, including the insurance industry, seek to rescind it so that injured crane workers are left “blowing in the wind.” The New York State Trial Lawyers Association, unions, and other consumer and public interest groups are fighting any weakening of Labor Law 240 (1).