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Is it safe to operate construction cranes in winter weather?

A deadly crane collapse in lower Manhattan in February 2016 raised serious concern about weather, cranes and public safety, adding to existing worries about construction worker safety in the city. According to an NBC New York report, a 37-mile gust of wind was noted near the TriBeCa accident site just minutes before the horrific accident that killed a 38-year-old man who was on his way to work.

Was it inherently unsafe to be using a crane, at all, on that winter day? How can citizens (and construction workers and their families) be assured that cranes can be operated in winter without a tragic repeat?

As a result of the wind concern following the incident, according to, the city buildings department temporarily banned crane operation when wind speeds hit 20 miles per hour, but that rule is not likely going to be permanent. The city found the operator to be at fault, as reported by the New York Times, and many people remain unconvinced that cranes are safe for use in certain types of weather.

Who’s actually at fault?

Nobody can control the weather, but construction companies do have control over their safety policies, employee training and management. Contractors and other parties can be held accountable for negligence in these and other aspects of their business practices.

In the February 2016 accident, the 565-foot crane collapsed and fell to the street below, also causing multiple injuries and millions of dollars in property and structural damage. According to Newsday, OSHA alleged that the crane operator failed to adequately instruct its employees regarding operation of the crane and also failed to follow the crane manufacturer’s procedures. OSHA pursued penalties against the crane operator.

Later in 2016, the deceased victim’s widow and other victims filed suit against numerous defendants, including the contractor, the crane owner and the worker who was operating the crane. In some ways, it’s too late for the people whose lives were changed as a result of the accident, but there is room for the city’s construction employers to take safety more seriously.

What you can do if you or a family member is a victim

If you or one of your family members get hurt while working construction, obtain legal advice right away. You might be entitled to significant money damages through a third-party injury claim.


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