NEW YORK (AP) -- City buildings officials announced strict new criteria Monday for workers seeking licenses to operate mobile cranes.
The machines are relatively small and usually driven into construction sites for the day. The cranes that toppled this year in fatal accidents in the city were larger tower cranes.
Under the new rules, applicants must get certified with the National Commission for the Certification of Crane operators, a nonprofit that develops performance assessments for safe crane operations.
Applicants must pass the commission's written and practical exams, undergo criminal background checks and demonstrate physical fitness. Crane operators must meet new the requirements by Sept. 30, 2009.
"Any type of crane is a complex piece of machinery that requires a unique set of skills, and these modernized tests accurately measure one's ability for the cranes being used today," acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said in a statement.
Previously, applicants had to demonstrate two years of experience and pass written and practical tests administered by the Buildings Department.
The agency is reviewing license requirements for the larger tower cranes.
The Buildings Department has added dozens of new safety rules in response to deadly construction accidents this year. Roughly 20 people have died, including nine in the two crane collapses.