In the wake of the Feb. 5 accident, which cost 38-year-old David Wichs his life and damaged four buildings when the crane's boom crashed down along the north side of Worth Street, the city's Department of Buildings prohibited crawler cranes, which can be driven around on tank-like treads, from operating in sustained wind speeds topping 20 miles per hour.
Now a working group that was established to review the city's crane rules in the wake of the crash has recommended lifting that emergency ban. The requirements would revert to what they were before the accident: Cranes have to stop work when wind speeds hit either the manufacturer's specification, or 30 miles per hour at the maximum.
Should the city adopt the new temporary measures, it would appease construction firms, crane companies and workers, who had complained that the 20 mile-per-hour limit was forcing them to shut down so frequently that it was wreaking havoc on their business without necessarily improving safety.
But the working group, which had been criticized for lacking crane experts, also recommended two other measures as part of its proposal. One would require that an operator be on site for crawler cranes unless the crane is designed to operate in 30-mph or stronger winds or is in storage mode. The other would prohibit crawler cranes from being used in public areas if the machines can't safely withstand 20-mph winds.