The New York crane collapse that killed seven and injured dozens more, cutting a wide swath of destruction on its way down is in the news again. Jury selection will begin on Monday for William Rapetti, the rigging contractor in charge of securing the crane that made national headlines in March of 2008. During the trial, he will face questions regarding one of the deadliest construction accidents in recent history.
Rapetti had one of the most important roles in the crane’s operation, as he oversaw the polyester straps that would hold the giant crane to the building as it was extended upwards to work on higher sections of the building. Rapetti has continued to defend his judgment, claiming that he completely fulfilled best practice.
In fact, the crane passed multiple inspections by New York City safety inspectors, including one just days before it fell. Instead of bolstering Rapetti’s cases, however, this appears to be more of a reflection on lackluster quality enforcement on behalf of inspectors.
New York’s building oversight officials faced sharp criticism and scrutiny after the accident. Following the crane collapse, New York’s top building official resigned. The inspector who, supposedly, conducted the last inspection of the crane was criminally charged under suspicion of lying about the site’s safety.
As for Rapetti, he is accused of securing the crane with only four straps, even though the company that manufactured the crane recommended twice that amount. He is also accused of using worn straps and failing to keep adequate straps from becoming too worn for use.
Rapetti scheduled to face manslaughter charges later this year.