Dec. 22, 2009
TUMWATER – The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) today reminded businesses that new crane safety standards taking effect Jan. 1 require construction cranes in Washington to be certified, but only a fraction have done so.
Of an estimated 7,000 cranes used in construction in the state, only 700 have been certified, including just 20 tower cranes. There are an estimated 100 tower cranes currently erected throughout the state.
“There are a huge number of cranes not certified,” said Dan McMurdie, manager of L&I’s Construction and Specialty Services program. “Businesses should have been working on this all year, but if they haven’t, they certainly should now.” He said there are about 50 people statewide trained to certify cranes, noting that an inspection can take a few hours to a week or more, depending on the crane’s size and complexity.
“Cranes affected by the new requirements range from very large ones you see at construction sites to small ones delivering materials to a site,” McMurdie said. “The vast majority are safe, efficient and well designed, and the public should not be overly alarmed. But in order to remain in that condition and ensure the safety of workers and people passing by, regular inspections must be conducted and those who operate them must be properly trained.”
It was the collapse of a crane and the death of one person that prompted state lawmakers in 2007 to adopt new crane-safety laws. In November 2006, a 210-foot tower crane used in the construction of a Bellevue office building collapsed, killing Microsoft lawyer Matthew Ammon in a nearby condo. An L&I investigation determined that the crane’s steel base frame caused the collapse, in that the frame needed to be four times stronger to adequately support the crane.
L&I adopted a new Construction Crane Rule with the support of the crane and construction industries. Effective Jan. 1, it requires that all cranes used in construction be certified by an accredited crane inspector and that crane operators be certified for the type of crane they are operating. Come Jan. 1, L&I inspectors will be in the field ensuring cranes meet the new standards and will work with businesses in cases where their cranes are out of compliance.
According to the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, approximately 2,000 crane operators in Washington have successfully completed their certification.