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