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Critical Picks Not Needed

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The membership of Allied Building Metal Industries Inc. were dismayed at the contents of your recent editorial "Making a City Safe for Cranes," in which you suggest that users should de-rate a crane's load chart so every lift in New York City defaults to a critical lift.

Crawler cranes already have a standard 75% reduced chart; truck cranes are at 85%. A further reduction to 75% would limit the crawler capacity to 56%. There is already a built-in factor of safety in the manufacturer's approved charts. Cranes are typically load-tested to at least 130% of rated capacity. A further reduction to 75% would effectively limit to 43% the crane's actual capacity.

Imposition of this arbitrary capacity reduction would result in having to use much larger cranes than necessary, with the following untoward consequences: additional trucking of booms and counterweights; more tractor-trailer deliveries clogging the streets and adding to environmental pollution; more time assembling and disassembling the crane at the jobsite on crowded city streets, leading to greater risk of injury to workers.

While it may be true that some agencies require that cranes be capable of picking 150% of their rated capacity, that requirement dates back to an earlier era before the advent of today's sophisticated crane electronics. Currently, the precise weight of the load on the crane hook is registered on the computer screen in front of the operator. Furthermore, the operator is warned of any potential overload by the crane's load moment indicator (LMI). Such regulations are clearly obsolete and unnecessary with today's technology.

This arbitrary capacity reduction would also make every pick a "critical pick," which, under the city's crane regulations, would require supervision by a master rigger, an impossible requirement given the sizable number of active crane jobs in the city at any given time and the limited number of master riggers, not to mention the incongruity of the city's master-rigger requirements relating to hoisting. It is thus obvious that, given the lack of any record of accidents resulting from overloading of cranes or working beyond a crane's rated capacity, this suggestion is motivated strictly by a desire to do something proactive, but the approach has no rational or historical basis.

One of Allied's members served on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC), which spent roughly one year developing the new OSHA crane standard, published in 2010. Allied members also served for years on the New York City Dept. of Buildings Crane Advisory Committee, which was discontinued in 2008. Allied members now serve on the department's subcommittee reviewing Chapter 33 of the building code, which contains sections relating to hoisting equipment. Allied members maintain strict compliance with federal and local New York City standards—the most rigorous crane regulations in the country.

Allied members consider safe crane operations to be a priority. They have spent thousands of hours to help develop protocols to ensure crane safety to the greatest extent possible. Simplistic approaches without any rational basis will do nothing to further this goal.

William Shuzman, Executive Director

Allied Building Metal Industries

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