Department fines crane operator in LIC collapse

Department fines crane operator in LIC collapse
By Rebecca Henely

The city Department of Buildings issued $132,800 in fines last week to the operator, site safety manager and property owner in a January Long Island City crane collapse.

“Cranes are complex pieces of equipment that serve as the driving force of any major construction project,” DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri said in a statement. “They must be properly operated and maintained, and when that fails to occur, there can be serious consequences.”

The accident, which left seven workers injured, occurred Jan. 9 at a construction site at 46-10 Center Blvd. behind Long Island City’s iconic Pepsi-Cola sign. The DOB later said it discovered through a preliminary investigation that the crane operator, Paul Greer, had tried to lift 23,900 pounds with the 15-foot mobile boom crane, which is more than double its weight capacity.

The DOB issued a stop-work order for the site last month and suspended Greer’s Hoist Machine Operator Class B license.

The construction was for the East Coast Long Island City complex, a luxury residential development by TF Cornerstone.

In the violations issued last week, Greer and the licensed operator for the crane — Cross Country Construction LLC, of Elmsford, N.Y. — were cited for five of the DOB’s Environmental Control Board violations. These included operating a crane unsafely, not inspecting the equipment, failing to conform the work to the approved construction documents, not keeping all people and property safe during construction and not posting a proper load chart for the boom crane, the DOB said.

These five violations accounted for $64,000 of the $132,800 in penalties issued as a result of the collapse.

TF Cornerstone and Arthur Covelli, the site safety manager, and TF Cornerstone also each received an Environmental Control Board violation for not safeguarding all people and property during the operations.

“In this case, neither the crane operator nor his supervisors made sure the operation was being performed according to approved plans,” LiMandri said.

The Maspeth-based New York Crane & Equipment Co., owned by James Lomma, leased the crane to Cross Country. Lomma had been charged with manslaughter after a 2008 crane collapse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side but was acquitted of the charges in 2012.

Neither he or his company was issued violations in the Long Island City crane collapse.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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