GL Analysis: The Manhattan Crane Collapse Horror
Given that we constantly write about issues related to construction, we'd be remiss in not mentioning the horrific crane collapse on E. 51st Street yesterday that killed at least four people and injured 17. An investigation will take place and we're fairly certain it will reveal shortcomings in the way the building site was regulated. We will simply note that 39 complaints were filed with department of buildings. We reproduce one of them--about the crane that collapsed--above along with an inspector's conclusion that the complaint was unfounded. It is, perhaps, tragic happenstance that the complaint was made on March 4 and that no problem was found. The person that made the complaint and spoke to the Daily News was a retired contractor and the inspector listed says he wasn't the person that made the inspection.
We have said it before and we have said it again: the entire building inspection and construction regulation system in New York City needs a top to bottom overhaul. It is a critically dysfunctional governmental system that threatens public safety and does violence to quality of life on a daily basis. While the horrendous accident on the Upper East Side is a dramatic event with awful consequences, one can find dozens of sites in Brooklyn every day where the safety of workers and residents is put at risk. There are hundreds more that ruin people's quality of life by ignoring regulations with impunity. The situation is nothing short of a vile scandal. The Department of Buildings needs more inspectors and an entirely new ethic that is responsive to public concerns and works to safeguard residents everywhere in the city in all ways whether it's stopping illegal work or greatly curtailing the abused system of self-certification or making honest inspections of sites or making sure that solid fences are erected so that children aren't exposed to two-story deep construction pits. Fines need to made large enough to make them sting. Permits need to be revoked for persistent offenses. Developers and contractors need to be part of a system where inspections are real and penalties are severe.
If the city doesn't act to crack down on developers and contractors and to fundamentally overhaul the Department of Buildings. The issue is not limited to high rise construction safety, even if the problems can have very dramatic consequences. It is everywhere, and it's not going too far to point out that fixing this broken system is a matter of life and death.
Labels: Construction Issues