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Cause of NYC Crane Accident Fatality Unknown

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A mechanical failure caused the death of a crane safety officer in Manhattan yesterday. The employee was checking an apparent hydraulic malfunction when the crane collapsed on him in the middle of seemingly normal operations. The nature of the malfunction has not yet been determined.

The man, the father of two small children, emigrated from Ireland 15 years ago. He was the owner of the Yonkers construction firm operating the crane, and served as its safety officer.

The crane accident occurred on East 44th Street near Second Avenue at a site where a 36-story hotel building was under construction. The small boom crane, known as a mini-crane, was being used to lift construction materials onto the second and third floors of the building from a flatbed truck.

What Are Stop Worker Orders?

The Department of Buildings immediately issued a stop work order for the worksite at 219 East 44th Street. Stop work orders are issued by the DOB when inspectors find hazardous or unsafe work conditions. They are issued to protect workers, tenants and the public from unsafe conditions and can cover existing buildings, buildings being demolished and buildings under construction. Whenever a worker dies or is seriously injured, the DOB almost always issues a stop work order, whether or not the cause of the injury or fatality is known. There are different levels of these orders; a full stop work order requires all work anywhereon the building to cease, while a partial stop work order stops work of a certain type or on a particular part of a building.

According to a report on the New York Business Journal, there had been complaints about the worksite before Friday's incident, and the city had previously issued two partial stop work orders that were subsequently lifted.

Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the DOB are investigating the death.