North Arlington regulating crane operations

NORTH ARLINGTON — Following a crane accident that crushed a vehicle two years ago, crane operators will soon have to obtain both state and North Arlington permits in order to operate in the borough. In the past, an operator only needed the state permit.

North Arlington would regulate all cranes, not just the ones with a lifting capacity of 10 tons or more, as the state does.

A crane subcontracted by PSE&G toppled onto a Lexus at Ridge Road and Noel Drive in May 2015. The crane operator was working on high-tension wires near the TD Bank. He was unharmed after jumping out of the cab as it toppled. Borough administrator Stephen Lo Iacono says North Arlington's mishap and a number of other crane accidents, including two in New York City that caused extensive damage, made elected officials look closer at safety.

The top causes for accidents in crane operations are crane buckling or collapsing, improper crane assembly, improper employee training, mechanical failures, contact with overhead power lines and flawed or infrequent inspections, according to personal injury lawyers Block O'Toole and Murphy. 

"I'm speculating that it had to be operator error because the outrig and truck didn't fail and tip over by itself," said Councilman Brian Fitzhenry, who was the assistant fire chief when the emergency call came in.

Borough officials contend the ordinance which was recently introduced is not in response to that accident, but is a precautionary measure. "The accident certainly made everyone look more closely at prevention. It's wise to enact [regulations], especially since we're hopefully in the midst of a redevelopment boom in town. This ordinance is more stringent than the state requirements, which are minimum," said Lo Iacono.

The Local 825 union of operating engineers backs the ordinance, which was introduced on March 9, Lo Iacono said.

Additionally, the borough will require notification prior to a crane's usage as indemnification to protect the town from liability.

The permit fee is $100. The state charges $50 for the permit.

The North Arlington permit requirements would include the following:

  • Proof of registration with the New Jersey Department of Labor
  • Certification from the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, Operating Engineers Certification Program or Crane Institute of America Certification
  • Proof that the operator submits to random drug testing 
  • Crane's lift capacity, proof of most recent inspection, engineer-certified geotechnical plan for crane site
  • Proof of permission to utilize crane site
  • Construction permit, New Jersey crane License 
  • Proof of insurance, insurance requirements of up to $2 million
  • Indemnification for the borough against all claims
  • Notification of accident of safety issue, required safety equipment, on master boom, controls, breaking mechanisms, sheaves, wire rope, connectors, blocks


Crane tips on Monroe Twp., New Jersey road

MONROE TWP., N.J. (WPVI) -- A crane partially tipped over on a road in Monroe Township, Gloucester County.

The accident happened around 8:30 a.m. on Malaga Road, which is on the border of Winslow Township, Camden County.

Police say the crane was being driven when it veered off the road.

Malaga Road was shut down in the area as additional cranes were brought in to upright the vehicle.

Crane that collapsed Kingwood bridge was 90,500 pounds over permit threshold

KINGWOOD TWP. — The owner of the overweight crane that caused a steel-truss bridge on Route 519 to collapse is due in Kingwood Township Municipal Court next month to answer the three summonses issued to the company.

The excess weight could result in a massive fine; the ticket says the vehicle was 90,500 pounds overweight. According to the law, the penalty for violating it is $530 plus $100 for each 1,000 pounds over.

Sky-Hy Erectors & Equipment of South Plainfield is charged with operating a crane that was 45 tons overweight, as well as too wide for the road. The company, which also uses the name Sky-Hy Crane and Rigging, is also accused of operating the vehicle without getting the special permit required because of its weight.

The company, as crane owner, is the party charged and not the driver, whose name was unavailable from State Police. Troopers impounded the crane after the June 12 accident and found it to weigh 170,500 pounds or about 85 tons, according to the summons. State motor vehicle regulations require than any vehicle and its load weighing more than 80,000 pounds (40 tons) first get a special permit.

The crane was 115 inches wide, according to the summons, while the general state limit is 102 inches.

This truck stopped shortly after the overweight crane it was following caused the bridge to collapse, officials said. 

Hunterdon County will be seeking compensation for the damage to the bridge, which engineers believe will have to be replaced with a new structure.

Before a permit for an oversized truck is issued, the various entities along the proposed route must be notified so they can see if their roads and bridges are appropriate, according to Tom Mathews, county director of Public Works. This was not done and the county, if asked, would not have allowed that route, he told the Freeholders last week.

The ruling would have been based on a bridge inspection, done every two years, that showed “the bridge cannot handle that” load, he said.

Sky-Hi did not respond to a request today for comment. According to Dawn Augustine, Kingwood Municipal Court Clerk, the case is set for a first-appearance hearing on Thursday, July 17, at 5:30 p.m. She has not heard from the company on whether it will fight the charges. They were filed by a State Trooper in the Commercial Carrier/Safety Inspection Unit, which enforces size and weight laws.

There is no weight limit for the bridge, which is just north of the Route 651 (Byram-Kingwood Road) intersection, but the state permit regulations for vehicles weighing more than 40 tons nevertheless apply, Mathews said.

The accident took place June 12 around 2:30 p.m. The driver of a tractor-trailer from Sky-Hy, following the crane with rigging and other equipment, saw the bridge caving in and "was able to stop in time” before going very far over it, Mathews said in an interview.

The crane was headed to a one-day job putting up a cell phone tower in Delaware Township, he said.

The county will likely have to replace the bridge; a two-year project, he said. Some sort of a temporary “fix” is being considered. In the meantime, a detour takes motorists over Kingwood municipal roads.