On Tuesday, July 19th, a crane, with its boom extended 25 stories high, buckled and collapsed onto the active Tappan Zee Bridge in New York. Thankfully and amazingly, no one was killed and only a couple people sustained minor injuries, but traffic on the bridge was stopped for hours. All but one lane was re-opened on the bridge within 8 hours of the collapse. After the collapse, work began to try to determine the cause of the accident.
Three different investigations are currently underway, led by the New York State Police, the State Labor Department, and OSHA. The fallen crane’s black box has been recovered in hopes of revealing any information that could be useful, just like in airplanes. In cranes, the black box records valuable data, including weight distribution and boom angles. Interviews have also been conducted with the operator of the crane.
At the time of the collapse, the crane, a Manitowoc lattice-boom crawler crane (according to the New York Times), was positioned on top of the new and adjacent bridge under construction. Working in tandem with an operator of a remote-controlled vibrating hammer, the crane operator was tasked with driving steel piles, some as large as 300 feet long and 6 feet in diameter, into the Hudson River bed below, when something went wrong.
The New York Times spoke with Jeff J. Loughlin, a representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 137, and he remains confident that this collapsed was not caused due to operator error. Wind has also been ruled out as a cause, as it was very calm that day. Laughlin theorized that the collapse could have been caused by the pile finding a soft spot in the river bed, causing the hammer to drop rapidly. But, that’s only a theory, for now.
The most sobering thought of this accident was that the pile driving procedure was extremely routine at this point of the project. Around 1,000 piles have been driven into the river bed already, but this is the first time a crane has gone down. It’s a strong reminder that no matter how routine we think our work is, it’s still construction work and it’s still very dangerous.
Full story: Investigations Into Tappan Zee Crane Collapse Ask How a Routine Job Went Awry | New York Times
Construction Safety is talked about constantly. There are many construction companies that take it very seriously. There are also many that don’t. All will say it’s their top priority.
So what can a city do that’s facing regular worker deaths and increases in workplace injuries? New York City has decided to require extensive safety training for all of the 185,000 construction workers in the city.
Modular building makes a lot of sense: build repetitive structures in a controlled, factory-like setting and transport to the project site and assemble. It should be a more efficient and less expensive way to construct a building, but the truth is, it’s a lot harder than it looks. There’s also no written standard for doing it.
Masonry workers, specifically brick and block masons, have been around for centuries and are one of the construction industries oldest professions. Before blocks were prefabricated and purchased, masons had to cut the material by hand before placing. Recently, robotic brick and block placing robots have threatened to take some jobs away from human masons, but that technology is still a long way away from making a huge impact on the profession
The immense technological growth the construction industry has seen in the past decade has been a refreshing change, to say the least. Fax machines, large filing cabinets, and redundant work are slowly becoming a thing of the past. More importantly, software developers are actually paying attention to the construction industry, making our lives collectively easier, while giving us more data to make better decisions. Bluebeam, maker of one of the industry’s favorite construction document software, has recently announced a wireless digital sensor specifically for under construction buildings.
Portable toilets are the setting for many pranks around a construction site, but I never thought there could be something worse than just getting stuck in one. Turns out I was extremely wrong, because a worker in New Orleans was run over by a dump truck while using the port-a-john.
At last week’s National Safety Council Congress & Expo, OSHA’s deputy director of Directorare of Enforcement Programs, Patrick Kapust, announced their 10 most frequesntly cited safety violations for their fiscal year 2017, reports the National Safety Council.
Smaller heavy construction equipment is the most likely to be stolen on a jobsite, but most of the time the thieves try to sell the equipment for money. On rare occasions, the thief just takes the machine out on the town for a joy ride and leading the police on some pretty frustrating pursuits. Early last year, a man in Florida stole a backhoe and lead police on a wild 3 hour chase as the hammer attachment drug along the asphalt throwing sparks the whole way. Just last week, police dash cam footage showed an 18 year old backing over a police cruiser, with an officer still inside, and then leading several other officers on a slow chase.
The Seattle Space Needle is not a normal building, which makes it a unique project to try to renovate. The iconic building is set to receive a $100 million renovation dubbed the Century Project that promises much better views thanks to new floor to ceiling exterior glazing. To prepare for the project, construction crews recently hoisted a 28.000 pound ring of scaffold to the tower’s Tophouse, around 400 feet in the air.
In our weekly quest to analyze each individual construction profession by state, we’ll examine carpentry. The two previous professions we examined were general construction laborers, followed by heavy equipment operators. You can also see the full list of all past and future professions by clicking here.