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Crane collapses bring attention to construction law

There are many parties responsible for the execution of a complex or large development project. Owners and operators often require legal protection for construction companies and their assets on property where development is happening.

Recent environmental disasters have brought the issues of high-value construction equipment to attention in Florida. Heavy winds associated with a hurricane ripped three cranes apart on residential buildings under construction in Miami.

No injuries were immediately reported from the incident, in which the booms bent and collapsed to come to rest hanging by cables from the upright towers. The presence of more than 20 construction cranes within city limits raises questions about the safety of construction equipment.

The first accident prompted the mayor to state the city should consider stricter building codes for cranes. Increases in penalties for equipment that is out of code could affect individuals, companies and property owners.

A legal challenge in 2008 ended the last attempt to allow only cranes that could sustain hurricane-force winds. General contractors and crane owners were among the groups that legally opposed the move.

The city building department and Florida officials from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the collapses. The city manager reported that weather conditions worsened too quickly for the cranes to be taken down before the collapses.

Owners and contractors involved in construction projects that involve high-asset or potentially dangerous equipment need to consider the legal protections that prevent criminal negligence or civil liability. Legal representation can help builders and owners understand their responsibilities in more detail.

Source: Miami Herald, "Three cranes at South Florida construction sites have snapped in Irma's howling winds," David Smiley, Douglas Hanks, Joey Flechas, and Nicholas Nehamas, Sep. 10, 2017

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