A construction industry lobbying organization seeking to have New York’s safety regulations overturned was denied in the 2nd Circuit recently. The Steel Institute of New York claimed that the city should not regulate the erection and use of cranes because federal regulations already existed to prevent crane accidents.
However, the court ruled that federal law (in particular, regulations issued by OSHA) do not pre-empt New York State and city workplace safety laws aimed at preventing crane accidents. Writing for the three-judge panel, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote, “Because New York City is the most densely populated major city in the United States, construction worksites necessarily abut, or even spill over into adjoining lots and public streets.”
Between 2004 and 2009, there were 15 hoist and crane accidents that injured 42 workers and passersby. The accidents killed eight workers and one passerby.
The New York City building code regulates crane operations. These rules require crane and hoist operators to have specific training and for companies using cranes to submit detailed plans before using cranes at their worksites.
“Cranes, which can be as tall as 1800 feet, and move loads as heavy as 825 tons, do not confine themselves to the property on which they are being used when they break, or worse, collapse,” Jacobs wrote. “They inevitably damage surrounding buildings and risk injuring people in their homes and on the street.”
The court ruled that city and state regulations do not conflict with OSHA standards. They have general applicability because they are directed at the safety of everyone and not just workers, the court said.