Comments about technological history, system fractures, and human resilience from James R. Chiles, the author of Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology (HarperBusiness 2001; paperback 2002) and The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks, the Story of the Helicopter (Random House, 2007, paperback 2008)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wrapping up: One57 Crane Mishap, October 2012

In the next couple of months I'll be linking to final reports (if issued) on accidents, mishaps, and disasters mentioned in Disaster-Wise since I started the blog more than three years ago.

Incident: Jib on Favelle Favco M440 crane flipped backwards over the operator's cab during Superstorm Sandy's high winds. I blogged about the One57 crane emergency, most recently here.

Location: A thousand feet above street level, at the construction site of the One57 skyscraper, in midtown Manhattan (photo, AP Wideworld).

Effects: No one was injured, but the need to secure the area blocked access to nearby buildings and tied up traffic for a week.

Final report: None released to the public yet, and given the safe resolution in removing the danger, we probably won't see one on the NYC Department of Buildings website.

Probable cause: Wind caught the jib while it was upwind of the mast, and flipped the big steel frame over the cab. We're told that the crane's controls were set so it would "weather-vane" in the wind, meaning it would pivot so that the jib would always be downwind, but severe turbulence around the building might have neutralized that precaution.

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