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City: Operator error caused TriBeCa crane collapse that killed man

FDNY firefighters at the scene of a crane

FDNY firefighters at the scene of a crane collapse on Worth Street in lower Manhattan on Feb. 5, 2016. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

The crane collapse in TriBeCa that killed a man in February was caused by operator errors, the New York City Department of Buildings said Friday in a statement that echoes a federal agency’s analysis of the accident.

The city department said the operator, who has not been identified by officials, failed to properly secure the 565-foot-high crawler crane at 40 Worth St. the night before it collapsed.

The operator also lowered the main boom at the wrong angle, causing the crane to topple over in strong winds, officials said.

The city’s findings were consistent with a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration determination in August that operator error and poor oversight contributed to the tragedy.

OSHA said the company didn’t comply with a key operational requirement about lowering the crane’s boom, and the crane operator didn’t account for wind and snow.

The operator’s license has been suspended, and department officials said he is no longer allowed to operate a crane in the city. The city has also filed to revoke his license permanently.

“Crane operations have very high stakes, particularly in New York City — and the operators of these huge machines must be held to the highest standards,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler. “The crane operator involved in this incident acted recklessly, with tragic results. The actions we’re taking should send the message to everyone in the construction industry that safety must come first.”

The crane collapsed along Worth Street just before 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 5, 2016, killing 38-year-old David Wichs as he walked along the street. Three other people were injured.

The crane — owned by Bay Crane and operated by Galasso Trucking and Rigging — was being lowered to a secure position due to winds of more than 20 mph when it collapsed, officials said after the accident. It was being used to replace generators and air conditioners on the roof of 60 Hudson St.

A man who answered the phone at Bay Crane, of Hicksville and Long Island City, on Friday declined to comment. Officials at Galasso, based in Maspeth, Queens, could not be reached.


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