Mayor Bloomberg and Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri have announced new legislation to limit the age of cranes operating in New York City as part of an ongoing effort to raise the standards for crane operations citywide. The bill would prohibit mobile and tower cranes manufactured more than 25 years ago from operating in New York City.
Cranes would be removed from service based on the original date of manufacture, or based on the age of the crane’s oldest component, whichever is greater. In addition, crane owners would be required to outfit all cranes with load cycle counters to record data regarding every lift that a crane performs – which is critical to setting maintenance schedules and overall operability over a crane’s service life. Since 2008, the Department has taken steps to reduce the age of the crane fleet in New York City and discontinue the use of aging cranes. Newer crane models are generally electric, require less maintenance, have improved controls and advanced safety features, and are better for the environment. A strict limit on the service life of cranes will ensure that older models are continually phased-out and replaced with the most sophisticated and technologically advanced equipment available. Requiring crane owners to update their crane fleet and make new cranes available will help maintain New York City’s position as a worldwide leader in construction. The bill was introduced to the City Council at the request of the Mayor, following years of research on practices in other jurisdictions and extensive engagement with the City’s development and construction stakeholders.
“New York City has some of the toughest crane regulations in the world, and we enforce crane regulations more stringently than anywhere else,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Since 2008, the City has adopted more than 25 new construction safety laws, conducted tougher inspections and raised licensing standards for crane operators. This legislation builds on those efforts by ensuring only state-of-the art, highly reliable equipment is transforming New York City’s skyline.”
“Imposing a limit on the age of cranes will bring our policy in line with the reality of advances in safety and technology in the crane industry,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “As building in New York City continues to accelerate, we must encourage crane manufactures to supply the construction industry with modernized equipment. In partnership with Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council, we have made impressive gains in increasing the City’s oversight of crane operations and demonstrated our commitment to making construction safer for workers and the public.”
On any construction site, cranes are responsible for delivering heavy loads throughout the property, and in a dense urban environment such as New York City, it is critical to ensure that this equipment performs to the highest standard. In 2008, the average age of tower cranes operating in New York City was 14.8 years. Today, the average age of tower cranes is 9.2 years. New York City enforces crane regulations more stringently than anywhere else in the world, and construction-related fatalities are down 84 percent this year compared to 2008 – despite an increase in construction permits. Since 2008, the Department has also issued cease-use orders for two models of cranes manufactured in the 1970s and 1980s and removed 36 tower cranes from operation. These models of cranes were ordered out of service after they were identified to have documented performance and safety issues.
Limiting the age of cranes is a major step in enhancing public safety and helping contractors and developers build more safely and efficiently. Cranes that remain in operation for a prolonged period of time are more susceptible to stress and fatigue. Older cranes develop heightened maintenance needs over time and the failure of certain parts, or defunct manufactures, make conducting proper repairs on older crane models more difficult. Newer cranes have advanced safety features and reduced maintenance needs. Cranes manufactured today tend to be electric – rather than diesel – are less noisy and produce fewer emissions. In addition, setting an age limit for cranes will allow crane owners and contractors to plan in advance for the purchase and manufacture of new cranes. It will also encourage investment in the research and design of new crane technologies that meet New York City’s high safety standards and unique needs. In recent years, similar age limitations for cranes have been implemented in jurisdictions, including a dozen European Union countries.
Since 2008, the Department has increased its oversight of crane operations across the City, including expanded inspection checklists, more training for crane inspectors, updated exams, stricter licensing requirements and several new laws and requirements, such as:
• Requirement of national certification and mandatory re-testing every five years for licensed crane operators;
• Requirement of detailed plans for the erection/dismantling of a tower crane;
• Requirement of a safety meeting before the erection, jumping, and dismantling of a tower crane;
• Requirement of tower crane workers to receive a 30-hour safety training course;
• Requirement of an inspection and certification by the engineer of record prior to jump or climbing;
• Prohibition of the use of nylon slings unless recommended by the manufacturer; and
• Requirement of a third-party engineer inspection of a tower crane before an approval for erection.