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Seattle City Council member raises questions about tightening crane regulations

The memorial for those killed in Saturday’s crane collapse grows on Mercer Street in Seattle. (Michelle Millman, KIRO7)

Members of the Ironworkers 86 union and other workers marched on Wednesday with a cross to the spot where two of their members died when a crane collapsed in Seattle on Saturday.

“This cross is being placed in memory of our brothers – Travis Corbett, Andrew Yoder,” said a woman in the march.

As the investigation into what caused the collapse continues, Seattle City Council members are already asking about whether tighter city regulations around taking down tower cranes are possible. Currently, the state sets crane safety standards, but that could change.

“We might want to look at additional regulations above and beyond what the state requires,” said Lisa Herbold, a Seattle City Council member for District 1.

A tower crane is too big to be mobile, so the pieces are assembled then taken down from project to project. But there are no inspection requirements for the disassembly. Crews were working on taking apart the tower crane on Saturday when it collapsed. The plummeting pieces also killed two people in cars below.

“There has been speculation that the pins were pulled going up instead of coming down at the end in order to save time. But there’s a right way and a wrong way,” she said.

Herbold suggested oversight for that process as well as what happens on the ground when a crane is disassembled.

“It’s been suggested we can potentially require, via a Seattle ordinance, that there be a flagger on the street when the crane is being taken apart itself,” she said.

The city council committee also said it would need to figure out if the city actually has the authority to set regulations that are more strict than state standards — since the Department of Labor and Industries is the regulating body that oversees cranes, and would wait until L&I came out with a cause for the crash before formally considering any ordinances.

 

The state Department of Labor and Industries is in the very early phases of investigating five companies tied to the construction project and crane. The tower crane was assembled and inspected on June 30, 2018 at the Google building site by a third-party, then certified for use.

Alan Justad, a long-time public servant and one of the four people killed in the collapse, was recognized at the council meeting on Wednesday.

“He worked for the city for 31 years, is survived by three daughters,” said Nathan Torgelson, director, Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection.

“Flowers are being placed in memory of Alan Justad and Sarah Wong,” the woman in the march told KIRO 7.

Kneeling one by one, Marines and former Marines planted small American flags into the soil. Now the memorial honors all four who died there Saturday.

 

 

 

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