TriBeCa crane collapse was caused by operator error, DOB says

The crane collapse in TriBeCa that killed a man in February was caused by a series of errors made by the operator, the Department of Buildings said on Friday.

Among those mistakes, the DOB said the operator, who has not been identified by officials, failed to properly secure the 565-foot-tall crawler crane at 40 Worth St. the night before it collapsed. Additionally, the operator lowered the main boom at the wrong angle, causing the crane to topple over in strong winds, DOB officials said.

The operator’s license has been suspended, and DOB officials said he is no longer allowed to operate a crane in the city. The DOB has also filed to revoke his license permanently.

“Crane operations have very high stakes, particularly in New York City — and the operators of these huge machines must be held to the highest standards. The crane operator involved in this incident acted recklessly, with tragic results,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler. “The actions we’re taking should send the message to everyone in the construction industry that safety must come first.”

The massive crane collapsed along Worth Street just before 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 5, killing 38-year-old David Wichs as he walked along the street. Three other people were injured.

The crane — owned by Bay Crane and operated by Galasso Trucking and Rigging — was being lowered to a secure position due to winds of more than 20 mph when it collapsed, officials said. It was being used to replace generators and air conditioners on the roof of 60 Hudson St.

Following the collapse, the buildings department issued several orders: banning crawler cranes like the one that collapsed from operating on city streets; requiring lift directors to monitor conditions, convene pre-shift meetings and conduct inspections; and limitations placed on crawler cranes operating when wind speeds reach more than 30 mph. 

“Our actions following this tragedy have made New Yorkers safer. Today’s report furthers this effort and will help shape new legislation to prevent future crane accidents,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The buildings department said it plans to propose additional City Council legislation in the wake of its findings, including mandating registration for large crane lift directors and tougher licenscing requirements.