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A mangled crane lies at the construction site in the Queens borough of New York CIty where it collapsed behind a giant neon Pepsi Cola sign, a local landmark.
Mary Altaffer/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 1/31/2013
NEW YORK--A crane operator and a contractor didn't inspect equipment, failed to take proper precautions and ran the rig unsafely before it collapsed while building a New York City apartment tower and injured seven construction workers, officials said Wednesday.
Crane operator Paul Geer and contractor Cross Country Construction LLC have each been cited with five violations stemming from the Jan. 9 collapse, which occurred as the crane tried to lift more than double its capacity, the city Buildings Department said. Geer and the company each face at least $64,000 in fines; the developer and a site safety manager also were cited with a violation apiece.
"Neither the crane operator nor his supervisors made sure the operation was being performed according to approved plans," city Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said in a statement.
No phone number could be found for Geer, and his union didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. Nor did Cross Country Construction.
The collapse was the latest of several accidents that have stirred questions about crane safety in a high-rise city in recent years. Two deadly collapses in 2008 spurred reforms and even criminal charges, but another crane fell and killed a worker in the city just this past April, at a subway construction site largely exempt from city safety rules. In other incidents, cranes have dropped loads or come close to falling apart, including a dramatic episode in which a crane's arm, or boom, nearly snapped off during Superstorm Sandy and dangled precariously over a midtown Manhattan block near Carnegie Hall.
The Jan. 9 collapse in Queens didn't cause any life-threatening injuries, but three workers had to be extricated from beneath fallen machinery after the 170-foot-long boom fell and mowed down part of the building's wooden framework, according to officials and witnesses. The rig was working on what will be a 25-story building near the East River in Queens' Long Island City neighborhood, behind a large neon Pepsi-Cola sign that serves as a local landmark.