Starting in May 2012, New York City crane operators will be required to adhere to a new set of licensing and testing requirements. City officials say the new requirements are designed to improve safety and open the industry to more workers. Union officials, though, worry that the new rules do not put enough emphasis on the skills needed to safely operate a crane in such a dense urban environment.
The new regulations were introduced in the wake of a New York City crane accident in March that left one worker dead and injured four others.
In May, all new crane operator license applicants will be required to obtain national certification. To do so, they will need to pass exams that city officials say are “tougher” and “more modernized” than the tests currently used to obtain citywide licenses. Starting in 2014, all crane operators will have to pass the exams to maintain their licensure.
New York City’s largest crane operator union, Local 14 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, opposes the change. It worries that a national license will not do enough to ensure that crane operators are well-equipped to handle the unique demands of working in New York City.
The new licensing rules require prospective operators to work in the city for one year before they can obtain a license. Crane operators who have worked in another jurisdiction for at least 10 years will be exempted from this requirement. Under the old rules, everyone seeking a crane operator license in New York City had to work under a city-licensed operator for at least three years.
New York City Construction Accidents
Despite this controversy, one thing is certain: more needs to be done to protect workers from dangerous construction accidents.
Since 2008, 10 New York City construction workers have died in crane accidents. Across all trades, there were 165 reported construction accidents in 2011, five of which were fatal accidents.
The New York City Department of Buildings has implemented more than 25 new construction laws since 2008 in an attempt to make construction work safer. Hopefully, Local 14 and city officials will be able to work together to improve crane safety and prevent future accidents.
Construction workers who are injured in an accident should be aware that they may have recourse to bring a lawsuit in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. If you are injured on-the-job, talk to a New York City construction accident lawyer who can help you understand your rights and discuss available remedies.