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Letter to Edwin Foulke, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Re: Safety Regulations for Cranes

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Letter to Edwin Foulke, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Re: Safety Regulations for Cranes

Senator Clinton Calls on Bush Administration to Issue Long Overdue Safety Regulations for Cranes

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling on the Bush Administration to issue new safety standards for cranes and derricks and questioned why the administration has failed to update these regulations. In a letter to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke, Senator Clinton underscored that current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety standards for cranes and derricks were written in 1971, and that an OSHA advisory committee recommended updated regulations in 2004 that have yet to be put in place. Today a crane collapse in New York City killed two individuals and injured several others. In March, seven people were killed and 24 more were injured when a 300-foot-tall crane collapsed in New York City, demolishing a town house and an apartment building.

"I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those who died in today's crane accident, and I wish a full and speedy recovery to those who were injured. All of New York is standing with them in this difficult time. We mourned the loss of several lives only a short time ago in a similar accident and since then, the number of crane-related accidents we have seen across the country is troubling," said Senator Clinton. "The City has already taken steps to address the problem but the Bush Administration must explain why it has failed to update the antiquated and outdated standards on crane and derrick safety so that we can stop additional tragedies like this one from occurring."

Text of Senator Clinton's letter follows.

May 30, 2008

The Honorable Edwin G. Foulke
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Mr. Foulke:

The crane collapse in New York City earlier today, which caused the death of two people and injury to several others, is only the latest in a disturbing pattern of tragic crane accidents across the nation in recent months. I am writing to call on you to issue the long overdue safety standards for cranes and derricks, and to provide an explanation for your failure to act until now.

According to one analysis, there were 176 deaths due to crane accidents last year, an increase from 74 in 2000. In addition to today's fatalities and injuries in New York City, last week, an 800-ton crane collapsed in Kansas City, killing one worker and injuring three others. Also last week, a crane operator was killed in Iowa when his crane tipped over and plunged through a bridge deck. And in March, six workers and a tourist were killed and 24 more were injured when a 300-foot-tall crane collapsed in Manhattan, demolishing a town house and an apartment building.

The current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety standards for cranes and derricks were written in 1971. Crane technology has changed in numerous ways in the last 37 years, and many of the current standards are now obsolete. In July 2004, a 23-member industry and union OSHA advisory committee issued a recommendation that OSHA update its antiquated and outdated standards on crane and derrick safety. The committee even proposed a revised standard, including specific rules on crane assembly. Nonetheless, almost four years after the advisory committee made its proposal, OSHA has failed to promulgate a proposed rule.

This delay is inexplicable and inexcusable. Casualties due to crane accidents are occurring at an alarming rate. According to industry experts, a crane is by far the most dangerous piece of equipment on a construction site. Industry and labor leaders have joined together to propose an updated set of standards and are urging their adoption. Under these circumstances, four years is more than enough time to issue standards designed to prevent more needless deaths and injuries.

Please advise me by June 16, 2008 when OSHA expects to promulgate the crane and derrick standards and what explains the nearly four year delay in taking this action.

Sincerely,

Hillary Rodham Clinton


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