Saturday, March 15, 2008

The not taking seriously of safety

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said four people have died in a Manhattan crane accident Saturday.

The crane, mounted to the side of a skyscraper under construction, toppled with a roar, smashing into a block of apartment buildings and setting off a scramble for survivors in the rubble. The collapsing crane demolished parts of several buildings on Manhattan's East Side, appeared to have pulverized one small, brick apartment building, and sent up a huge dust cloud over the neighborhood.
A piece of steel fell and sheared off one of the ties holding it to the building, causing it to detach and topple, said Stephen Kaplan, an owner of the Reliance Construction Group.

"It was an absolute freak accident," Kaplan said. "All the piece of steel had to do was fall slightly left or right, and nothing would have happened."

Kaplan said the company had subcontracted the work to different companies and was not in charge of the crane. He wasn't sure if any workers at the site were among those killed.
(1) Again, the reasons that you use contractors are multifold, but include the fact that you can deny explicit knowledge of their not being correctly insured and bonded. It's what makes them cheaper. As long as "What? I'm supposed to check on everyone working on one of my projects?" is a valid legal defense, these kinds of regulation are unenforceable.
(2) Stephen Kaplan's wishful thinking contributed to the deaths of these people. The fact of the matter is that usually when things fall, they don't hit anybody. I'm always amazed at the failure of incredibly bad things to happen when you'd think they would. But, the reason that you avoid creating those situations is that sometimes the bad things do happen.
If he's saying "Wow. A little to the left or right and nobody would have died," now, you have to figure he was not super uptight about keeping cranes from falling previously. It could be an unfortunate quote, but it sounds like a mindset to me.

Update: The wire article I linked to is a little different from the one I read. Although it still contains the Kaplan quote, it gets a little more explicit about the unsafe practices at this site, making my reading a little less insightful.

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