Calls for new safety standards

By Euan Youdale12 June 2008

US associations hold a press conference in Washington DC to discuss crane safety

US associations hold a press conference in Washington DC to discuss crane safety

Industry associations in the US held a press conference last week to announce their support for rigorous new standards following two fatal tower crane accidents in New York City this year.

It is hoped the meeting attended, by the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SC&RA), Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the National Commission for the Certification of Cranes, will lead to increased training and safer assembly, operation and maintenance.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington DC, SC&RA executive vice president Joel Dandrea said that while any accident that occurs in the crane industry is a concern the tragic loss of life is particularly troubling and completely unacceptable. He also expressed the industry's sympathies to those affected by recent accidents in New York and Florida.

Dandrea said a recently formed SC&RA Tower Crane Task Force has taken on the responsibility of reviewing recent tower crane incidents and related issues in order to create a set of industry best practices.

Some 2,100 tower cranes are in use in North America on any given day, Dandrea said. Using a conservative estimate of 50 lifts daily per crane, he estimated more than 105,000 lifts are executed safely every day. Dandrea said his organization "believes it is our responsibility to take an active and progressive role in establishing safe practices and standards for our industry and providing the information necessary for members and non-member companies to reduce workplace accidents and injuries."

Dandrea, along with fellow speakers, also called for increased training and certification for crane operators and related workers as well as enhanced standards for crane operation.

In July 2003, an advisory committee convened by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and including SC&RA representatives developed a proposal for the Cranes and Derricks Construction Standard.

The committee, known as C-DAC, negotiated all aspects of the new standard and submitted its recommendations to OSHA in July of 2004. The promulgation process has since languished within the Department of Labor. In February of this year, SC&RA wrote to Labor secretary Elaine Chao to express concern over the lack of progress in adopting the standard and the resulting disservice to the industry, to workers and the general public. That letter came a full month prior to a crane collapse in New York that killed four people.

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