Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Monday, September 11, 2017

Two tower cranes collapsed Sunday in Miami after Hurricane Irma made landfall in southern Florida, leaving many people to wonder why cranes weren't dismantled before the massive storm system hit. Part of one construction crane, next to downtown Miami's federal detention center, crashed in front of the Miami-Dade Courthouse, local ABC news channel WSVN reported. Another crane collapsed on top of an unfinished high-rise tower, NBC News reported. It's still unclear whether the cranes' collapse caused injuries. City officials said that construction cranes are designed to withstand winds of 145 miles per hour, far less than the sustained windy conditions brought by a Category 5 hurricane but stronger than the 75-mile-an-hour conditions in Miami on Sunday morning. But the cranes might be more dangerous than they need to be: Builders, contractors, and crane owners have fought for laxer regulations.

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In 2008, Miami-Dade County passed an ordinance setting mandatory hurricane wind load standards for the "construction, installation, operation, and use of tower cranes, personnel, and material hoists." Soon after, building and contracting groups sued the city, arguing that the ordinance violated a federal law known as the OSH Act because it was a state regulation on occupational safety and health issues governed by federal standards. A district court sided with the building and contracting groups, arguing that there was already a federal standard that regulates wind loads, and as a result, preempted the ordinance. Two years later, Miami-Dade unsuccessfully appealed the district court's decision to prohibit the enforcement of that city ordinance. The Eleventh Circuit rejected the County's argument, reasoning that construction sites were already closed to the public and that there hadn't been a single crane accident during a hurricane that injured the public.

"This argument is not persuasive," the decision read, in part. "Construction job sites are closed to the public and it is undisputed that the Ordinance's wind load standards regulate how workers use and erect tower cranes during the course of their employment, thus directly affecting occupational safety. Furthermore, the County failed to identify a single incident in which

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Bottom line:

They all just want to make more money and they don't give a flying **** how many of us it kills.

#1 | Posted by MrSilenceDogood at 2017-09-10 04:53 PM | Reply

Our mounting totality of "natural" disasters are the actual real-life consequences of communal societal concerns being overridden through our legal and legislative processes often favoring the free market-pro business interests. I would hope that informed citizens can understand the need for both in order to forward the overall interests of our society as a whole, but have we really evolved our jurisprudence to the standard that one can only prove probable harm unless the same conditions have already produced one?

Everybody understands that safety regulations and standards can be onerous until they actually save lives or protect property from even more expensive damage, but shouldn't the insurance companies adjust their own coverage rates to reflect their exposure to high claims when regulations fail both their's and the public's interests? Isn't it time for the free marketeers to reassess the need for society to make sure their profits don't come at the express of a public disinterested with their particular market values or profit margins?

Just asking for a friend....

#2 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-09-10 05:03 PM | Reply

nonsense, keep up Tony, you privatize the profit and socialize the losses.

#3 | Posted by truthhurts at 2017-09-10 05:14 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

... leaving many people to wonder why cranes weren't dismantled before the massive storm system hit.

I heard someone claim on TV yesterday that it takes a couple weeks to dismantle them. I don't know if that's true.

#4 | Posted by rcade at 2017-09-10 05:47 PM | Reply

#4

Yes that's correct. Some details are in the story.

#5 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-09-10 05:51 PM | Reply

www.npr.org

"It takes five to six days per crane, and they can be up to 900 feet tall and include 10,000-pound counterweights," WLRN reports.

Those counterweights could pose a grave threat if any of the cranes are unable to withstand wind and flying debris. As the city of Miami said in its news release about the risk, "The crane's arm has to remain loose; it is not tied down. The arm's counterbalance is very heavy and poses a potential danger if the crane collapses."

#6 | Posted by LauraMohr at 2017-09-10 05:56 PM | Reply

Those counterweights could pose a grave threat if any of the cranes are unable to withstand wind and flying debris. I voted to allow idiots to run everything because I am an idiot.

#6 | POSTED BY LAURAMOHR A

Fixed.

#7 | Posted by MrSilenceDogood at 2017-09-10 06:20 PM | Reply | Funny: 3

Isn't it time for the free marketeers to ...

In this instance it's not a free market. It's a regulated market. Specifically, the federal OSH Act and 29 C.F.R § 1926.550.

#8 | Posted by et_al at 2017-09-10 09:02 PM | Reply

#8

It's painfully obvious that I was relating that statement directly to the opinion expressed by the court quoted above, namely:

"This argument is not persuasive," the decision read, in part. "Construction job sites are closed to the public and it is undisputed that the Ordinance's wind load standards regulate how workers use and erect tower cranes during the course of their employment, thus directly affecting occupational safety. Furthermore, the County failed to identify a single incident in which a crane accident injured a member of the general public during a hurricane."
I do not know whether that calculation is a part of the actual law/regulation itself, but the court saw fit to comment on the standard I rephrased in my response. It is a tacit example of a free market argument and it was included in the court opinion.

Again, being a novice, I think the concerns of community safety should override boilerplate federal standards when the local standards are more stringent for a salient reason. But it would appear to me that the court would have entertained stricter local standards if such an example could have been presented to them at that time. If you see their language as saying something different, I'm open to being educated.

#9 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-09-10 09:31 PM | Reply

"In this instance it's not a free market. It's a regulated market.

Thanks Captian Obvious.

#10 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-09-10 09:40 PM | Reply

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"but shouldn't the insurance companies adjust their own coverage rates to reflect their exposure to high claims when regulations fail both their's and the public's interests?"

I'm sure they do, Tony. Wind resistance is a factor when determining rates to insure those cranes. Couple it with the odds of winds exceeding certain thresholds, etc. many factors go into rates.

#11 | Posted by eberly at 2017-09-10 10:18 PM | Reply

I'm open to being educated.

Read the opinion. It's short and to the point. It has nothing to do with the free market and, no, the court likely would not entertain a strict standard. The local standard is preempted by federal statute, not "boilerplate federal standards." Apparently, two others circuits ruled the same way in 1988.

#12 | Posted by et_al at 2017-09-10 10:27 PM | Reply

Read the opinion.

Can't, the link doesn't work for me. 404 error.

The local standard is preempted by federal statute, not "boilerplate federal standards."

Good lord man, that is a distinction without a difference. By definition, static federal statutes cannot take into consideration ever-changing local factors that may not be relevant or germane in other locations also being regulated by the same statutes.

Apparently, two others circuits ruled the same way in 1988.

And the Miami regulation was written in 2008 probably with regards to information gleaned from hurricane strikes far more recent than the circuit decisions, with 1992's Andrew likely leading many of the changes.

#13 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-09-10 10:50 PM | Reply

404 error.

Oops, sorry. caselaw.findlaw.com

#14 | Posted by et_al at 2017-09-10 11:26 PM | Reply

#14

So the states themselves can override this federal statute if they submit said plan to the federal government. Miami set a local standard without state approval or submission, hence the reason for the plaintiff's injunctive relief. The language seems to imply that even though the county made the argument that their new regulation was based on a public safety concern, the court disagreed, saying it was of dual use, hence it had to fall under the statute's guidelines as they relate to worker/worksite safety standards. They mention a "national consensus standard" and "adopting the European standard" for cranes that have little to do with the local concerns of Miami and it's warm water location and burgeoning high rise building boom. I've never argued that the law itself was flawed or incorrect, only the court's legal interpretation of something the legislators who passed the law probably never considered which the Miami officials did. And as the court mentioned, no prior act of a falling crane ever harming the public during a hurricane was a point cited in their ruling.

The law does allow for possible changes to federal statutes, but only through the state and not local officials, and that is not the law's fault, it's the fault of legislators wrongly believing those closest to citizens affected by the real-world impact of laws cannot discern their own community's need for more stringent standards without first making said case through the state legislator with all the political machinations that entails.

Which dovetails nicely with my overarching point that I began with: Both sides of this issue need to find more amenable ground from which to move forward in our quickly changing environment that has become moribund due to our politics. Though the mechanism for change is there, the reality of it coming before catastrophes is almost impossible because the needed rigidity in law itself. Sometimes that good, other times not so much, but that is not the laws fault. That responsibility falls upon those who write the laws, not necessarily those who interpret them.

#15 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-09-11 12:45 AM | Reply

The cranes are insured. If you lose cranes the insurance exceptions change to reflect that, and dismantling them will be mandatory.

#16 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-09-11 09:41 AM | Reply

...the flame which the old knights saw from their tombs, which they saw put out; that flame burns again for other soldiers, far from home, farther, in heart, than Acre or Jerusalem. It could not have been lit but for the builders and the tragedians, and there I found it this morning, burning anew among the old stones.

--Evelyn Waugh

#17 | Posted by madscientist at 2017-09-11 01:03 PM | Reply

It another free market miracle overcoming those evil gubmint regulayshuns!

#18 | Posted by 726 at 2017-09-12 07:20 AM | Reply

wonder why cranes weren't dismantled before the massive storm system hit.

I guess the author doesn't have a clue on what it takes to dismantle one.

#19 | Posted by Sniper at 2017-09-12 10:18 AM | Reply

"It takes five to six days per crane, and they can be up to 900 feet tall and include 10,000-pound counterweights," WLRN reports.

#6 | Posted by LauraMohr

A week won't be long enough for the big ones. They are assembled on the ground and the climb and extend the height themselves. Reverse that to take them apart.

If a hurricane blows them down, there shouldn't be anyone near them in that kind of storm. When was the last one to hit Florida?

#20 | Posted by Sniper at 2017-09-12 10:26 AM | Reply | Funny: 1

#19

Read post 6 dumbass. Do you enjoy spewing your lazy obliviousness all over this blog?

Reading is fundamental unless you're a fool.

#21 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-09-12 10:28 AM | Reply

Read post 6 dumbass. Do you enjoy spewing your lazy obliviousness all over this blog?

Reading is fundamental unless you're a fool.

#21 | Posted by tonyroma

You be the fool dumbass. I have put s couple of them together and taken them down. How many has the author worked on, or dumbass you?

#22 | Posted by Sniper at 2017-09-12 04:55 PM | Reply

#22 | POSTED BY SNIPER

Foul.

Interesting, but anecdotal.

#23 | Posted by IndianaJones at 2017-09-12 05:07 PM | Reply

I guess the author doesn't have a clue on what it takes to dismantle one.

#19 | POSTED BY SNIPER

I bet it is not cheap and easy. I also bet they would have saved a ton of money had they made the effort. Now how much will they have to pay to take the wreckage down and put up another one? That's not including the damage they caused.

#24 | Posted by donnerboy at 2017-09-12 05:12 PM | Reply

I wonder if the deductible on the crane is lower than the labor costs to dismantle it.

#25 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-09-13 10:43 AM | Reply

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