HOST INTRO: Officials disagree on how to best prevent construction site accidents and who should regulate their inspections. This comes after the deadly crane collapse Tuesday night, which killed one worker and injured another at the site of the 7 train extension on the west side of Manhattan. Annie Russell reports.
ANNIE RUSSELL: The MTA has launched a full investigation on the cause of the crane collapse Tuesday that killed 30-year-old Michael Simmermeyer when officials believe a cable on the crane may have snapped. The MTA ordered immediate inspections for all MTA construction sites in the city that use cranes. But that’s not enough for City Council speaker and likely 2013 mayoral candidate Christine Quinn. She’s calling for increased City control of construction safety after the fatal accident. Right now, the safety inspectors visiting major MTA construction sites are under the jurisdiction of the state, since the MTA is a state agency. Quinn said at a press conference at the site at 34th street and 11th avenue that the conditions there would have violated city safety rules.
CHRISTINE QUINN: We need the MTA and other state agencies to give the city the oversight and authority at these construction sites. In fact, the MTA should follow the lead of the Port Authority, that has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the city around crane safety issues.
ANNIE RUSSELL: The MTA responded to Quinn today, saying in a statement that crane contractors working on MTA projects are already required to obtain certificates from the New York City Department of Buildings. The MTA also says city inspectors visited the site last July. A second inspection slated for January was rescheduled because the crane was in use. The MTA halted production on the subway project yesterday, further postponing the city’s plan to extend subway service to Secaucus, New Jersey. First responders said the rescue was made more complicated by the underground job site. FDNY Fire Chief Bill Seeling said the rescue was trickier than at past accidents.
BILL SEELING: It was a complicated job. It wasn’t on ground level. Being that it was 60 feet down in the pit. The crane that crashed was set up on the second of three levels in a tunnel about sixty feet below street level. The boom of the crane came crashing down in two pieces, one 40 feet long and another 80 feet long. Shockingly, the crane operator was the victim’s uncle. Simmermeyer’s father also worked at the job site. The city re-vamped their safety rules after two deadly crane accidents in 2008, but the regulations don’t apply to state agencies like the MTA. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling for stricter regulations on crane operation.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: We’re also incidentally pushing for a change in the exams that crane operators have to take. One of the unions is violently opposed to our crane operators that work here taking a national test.
ANNIE RUSSELL: Last year, Bloomberg brought up the national test during labor talks, but it is not yet required. Under the proposal, crane operators would need to be re-tested every five years. The MTA says the next scheduled inspection for the crane involved in the accident was supposed to take place today. Annie Russell, Columbia Radio News.