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Judge revokes rigger's license after fatal 51st Street crane collapse.

A judge last week revoke the license of tower crane rigger William Rapetti after finiding his actions led to the collapse of a crane tower at 303 East 51st Street on March 15, 2008, leading to the deaths of seven people.

Rapetti was the licensed tower crane rigger responsible for erecting a tower crane at the site.

Administrative Law Judge John B. Spooner found that Rapetti, the owner of Rapetti Rigging Services, Inc., violated several local and federal laws and professional standards.

The judge determined the rigger was using a damaged sling to support the 11,200-pound steel collar on the 18th floor, which fell and struck other collars tied to the building at the 9th and 3rd floors.

He also found that Rapetti failed to follow the manufacturer's specifications by using four polyester slings instead of eight to support the steel collar and by attaching the slings at the corners instead of the middle. Rapetti also failed to pad or soften the slings against sharp edges, according to the judge's findings and, as a result, endangered the public and caused the collapse of the 18-story tower crane.

"This tragic incident has impacted so many lives throughout the City and is a grave reminder of the importance of taking the proper safety precautions on every construction site," said Commissioner RObert LiMandri.

"We have determined that Mr. Rapetti took shortcuts while erecting the tower crane by using damaged equipment and failing to follow the manufacturer's specific instructions. Those shortcuts sacrificed the safety of the job site and led to horrific consequences. Therefore, in order to protect the safety of the City and its people, I believe it is necessary and justified to revoke his licenses."

Following the crane collapse, inspectors and engineers from the Department of Buildings worked with the Department of Investigation and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office on the investigation into the collapse.

In January 2009, Rapetti agreed to a suspension of his tower crane rigger and crane operator licenses pending the outcome of the criminal charges filed against him and his company.

Attorneys assigned to the Buildings Special Investigation Unit (BSIU), a joint investigatory trait of DOB and DOI, along with DOB attorneys, prosecuted the case against Mr. Rapetti during a seven-day hearing in December 2010 at the Office of Administrative Trials' and Hearings.

The Department of Buildings also had' hired Ore Arup & Partners Consulting Engineers PC (Amp) to perform a review of the collapse, providing expert engineering and investigative services.

New York City has among the toughest, crane regulations of any jurisdiction in the world. Since 2008, the Department of Buildings increased implemented more than 25 construction safety laws, among them, mandated training for all tower crane workers and the requirement of detailed plans for the erection and dismantling of all tower cranes.

The Department also overhauled the" Cranes and Derricks Unit, including new in- i spectors, expanded inspection checklists and increased training for inspectors. In 2009, the Department also began using GPS technology. to track and monitor the on-duty locations of all inspectors.
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Comment:Judge revokes rigger's license after fatal 51st Street crane collapse.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jul 27, 2011
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