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NEW YORK CRANE COLLAPSE REPORT

Investigation blames ‘improper rigging’ as cause of fatal collapse

The NY Department of Buildings has released the findings of a year-long investigation into the tower crane collapse on March 15 2008.

The investigation has concluded that improper rigging operations caused a steel collar to fall while it was being connected to the building. The falling collar damaged the crane connections to the building and caused the crane to collapse killing six workers and one civilian. 

Ove Arup & Partners Consulting Engineers conducted a comprehensive investigation and found that the collapse was caused by a number of critical errors relating to slinging of the load, including:

  • four synthetic slings were used instead of eight chain blocks specified;
  • one of the slings used to support the collar had prior physical damage;
  • slings were not attached at the collar points specified by the manufacturer;
  • slings were attached to the mast in a way that compromised their capacity and;
  • padding for the slings at sharp edges on the mast was not provided.

Arup also found that installation design met industry standards that that the DOB crane inspection and permitting protocols would not have identified the rigging errors that caused the collapse.

New York City Commissioner LiMandri said: “crane assembly is a highly technical activity that requires great skill and adherence to the crane manufacturer’s instructions. Deviation from those instructions can have catastrophic results. This investigation shows the consequences of taking shortcuts on the job site. In the coming days, we will convene a series of meetings with the construction industry to review the report’s findings and identify ways to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.”

The tower crane rigger and his company have been indicted on multiple charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault, and reckless endangerment. 

Comment: The majority of near misses, injuries and deaths relating to lifting operations in the UK arise from slinging rather than crane design or operation. This incident highlights the potentially distastrous consequences of slinging errors. Construction projects in the UK would do well to put slinging practice high on the agenda for review, training and monitoring.

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