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High Winds Cause Manhattan Crane to Spin, Dropping Debris

Dangerous winds caused a construction crane atop a Manhattan skyscraper to spin out of control on Thursday, October 29, 2020, sending debris plummeting to the streets below. Witnesses say around 7:00 p.m., a crane attached to an 85-story luxury building located on 111 West 57th Street spun in circles as it ripped pieces of the building's glass façade, knocking large sections to the ground. Two 20-foot-long pieces of twisted metal were found a block away on West 56th Street and 6th Avenue.  

Streets were shut down within a four-block radius as firefighters, along with the construction company and Department of Buildings, acted quickly to secure the crane. A representative for the Department of Buildings said the crane did not collapse and the spinning was, in fact, normal. Crane spinning, also known as weathervaning, allows the crane to sway 360 degrees while not in use, in the direction of the wind, reducing wind resistance and reportedly increasing stability. City building inspectors along with technical engineers were back on the scene Friday morning, trying to determine whether the falling debris was knocked off by the crane itself or if high winds from Hurricane Zeta were to blame. 

This incident all unfolded on the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, when high winds and rain caused parts of a crane to come down from a Manhattan skyscraper on the same block. Thankfully, in that incident no one was injured as well.  

This was a very close call and luckily, no one was hurt, but it could have been much worse. High winds combined with construction can sometimes be deadly for workers and pedestrians. The Department of Buildings warns property owners to secure job site materials including  hand tools, wires, and cranes during hurricanes and storms. Some other tips for keeping job sites safe during rough weather conditions include: 

  • Create a hurricane plan so everyone knows their assigned tasks  
  • Monitor the weather 
  • Add upgrades to the exterior building components to reduce potential damage 
  • Work with local building departments to ensure safety

Cranes are one of the most complex and dangerous tools on a work site; without proper training and inspection, cranes can lead to serious injuries or even death. For instance, there are various types of cranes used in different construction areas. The crane in Thursday's incident is known as a tower crane or hammerhead, used when constructing tall buildings. These cranes require certain safety measures that differ from other kinds of cranes. It is important to know the risks and proper safety procedures associated with crane accidents. Some of the most common hazards associated with crane mishaps include: 

  • Broken wires and ropes 
  • Improper setup 
  • Overloading 
  • Unsafe operation 

New York City has some of the strongest crane regulations in place to protect the public and workers, but accidents do happen and the results can be life-altering. With one of the best records in litigating construction accidents, the experienced attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy know all too well the pain and suffering brought on by a catastrophic construction accident. That is why we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve, like this $12,000,000 settlement for a Local 147 tunnel worker who fell 40 feet over the protective barrier into a ventilation shaft while trying to stabilize a swaying crane. 

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