After construction crane collapses during Irma, regulations questioned

Cranes rated for 140 mph winds didn’t hold up to 100 mph gusts.

September 21, 2017 |
A construction crane

After three partial collapses of construction cranes during Hurricane Irma, officials are debating whether regulations should be tightened.

Two crane booms in Miami and one in Ft. Lauderdale collapsed during the storm, with no injuries reported. The equipment was supposed to be able to withstand 145 mph winds, but the highest gusts recorded in the area were 100 mph.

Any initiative to impose tougher regulations on cranes would be complex, with federal, state, and local authorities all having a hand in rulemaking and oversight. Cranes are regulated by the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Florida statute preempts cities from enforcing laws regulating cranes, but Miami does enforce codes and regulations on the construction and maintenance of buildings. The multiple authorities have some overlap when it comes to construction cranes, at least in theory.

Industry trade groups warn that new regulations should wait until more is known about what caused the collapses. All of the collapses occurred where cranes were set up at 300 feet high or higher, and there is limited data on wind speeds at those heights during the hurricane.

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