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Officials are investigating a crane accident in New York City as part of standard protocol into work related incidents. More than 10 people were injured after a huge heating and air conditioning unit dropped at a building in Midtown at 10:45 a.m. Sunday.
According to official reports released by the city, workers were using the crane to lift the unit onto one of the office buildings on Madison Avenue located between 38th and 39th streets. The rigging strap broke and the unit plummeted 30 stories. The unit repeatedly struck the side of the building, causing glass damage, and landed in the middle of the street.
Officials immediately closed off the streets in the surrounding area, but hope to reopen them before New York City residents head to work during rush hour on Monday. That block of Madison Avenue was evacuated by first responders out of a concern that the building’s facade might collapse. The building’s outer exterior remains in place, although damaged. The damage was primarily because the building is narrow closer to the top and wider at the bottom, so the unit hit the building multiple times.
There is nothing to indicate there is anything wrong with the crane, according to New York City Buildings Department Commissioner Rick Chandler. Chandler said there has not been any complaints about the crane and early stages of the investigation indicate it is in good working order. Officials will be following up on the device, he said.
Officials state that it was, in some ways, fortunate workers were completing their duties on a weekend instead on a weekday when far more people would have been in the area. A popular Japanese restaurant, Zuma, located in the building was closed at the time of the incident, reports said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke to reporters about the incident and states it was a miracle more people were not injured. He said this is one reason it is a good idea to do heavy construction work on the weekends.
“Thank God, this incident occurred at an hour of the day on a weekend when there were not too many people around,” the mayor said. He spoke to reporters while in the area Sunday.
Chandler said work involving heavy equipment like cranes is typically done on the weekends. He also said Skylift Contractor Corp. had proper permits in place for the work, so there does not appear to be any obvious violations. The machinery is owned by Bay Cranes, a New York company. Officials said the investigation began into the New York City crane accident immediately.
Witnesses said it sounded like a freight train when the unit fell. Those injured sustained only minor injuries, according to reports. Seven people, including two construction workers and five motorists, were treated for minor injuries at Bellevue Hospital while three others, who were pedestrians, injured refused medical attention. All were injured by the falling debris, according to reports.
New York City has seen other similar incidents. A crane, also belonging to Bay, collapsed in the middle of the night at a Lower Manhattan construction site in 2010. The incident caused no injuries, but Skylift operator Christopher Cosban’s license was suspended because he failed to secure the crane.
The New York City Council looked at multiple bills in 2008 after several deadly construction accidents. The bills hit a number of areas and included denying permits to those who break safety rules regularly. Some council members worried if approving the bills would actually reduce accidents or simply create more bureaucracy.
Chandler and other officials said the investigation into this New York City crane accident began immediately after the incident and will be conducted thoroughly. Usually, the federal agency of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also investigates workplace accidents that results in injuries.
By Melody Dareing
Yahoo News: Material being lifted by crane in NYC falls; 10 injured
New York Post: At least 10 hurt after crane smashes into Midtown building
ABC 6 Action News: Crane accident in New York City injures 10
Photo Courtesy of Vincent Desjardins Flickr Page – Creative Commons License