Bayonne council adopts crane safety regulations

The ordinance further enshrines existing state regulations at the municipal level

The Bayonne City Council has adopted an ordinance enacting state-level crane safety regulations at the municipal level.

The council voted to adopt the ordinance at its January meeting. Previously, the council had tabled a public hearing and vote on the matter at its December meeting at the request of Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa due to redeveloper concerns.

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Chris Lalavee, a representative for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 which represents heavy equipment operators throughout the state of New Jersey, sought to address any concerns by the redevelopers and council members at both the December and January meetings.

Addressing redeveloper concerns

“At the last meeting, Mr. La Pelusa had said that there were some developers that had some concerns. I’m willing to answer them,” said Lalavee, a crane operator and instructor who has worked through Hudson County. “I haven’t heard anything. Again, it’s about safety. I may be a union worker, but this doesn’t have a union face or non-union face.”

In response, La Pelusa said that he spoke to the redevelopers to follow up on after the last meeting.

“I spoke to those developers, I called them back and I explained to them that is a matter of enforcement, because the laws are already in place,” he said.

La Pelusa said that after explaining the ordinance, they did not have any more concerns or questions. Lalavee confirmed the ordinance would essentially implement regulations that already exist in law at the state level.

“Each crane has to be inspected annually as per law,” Lalavee said. “The operator needs to proper credentials, which includes CCL, New Jersey state license, and a valid medical card by law. All we’re asking to do is to be sure that the crane company has the proper insurance.”

Push for safety across the state

Lalavee said that Bayonne, if it adopted the crane safety ordinance, would join a number of other municipalities in Hudson County in doing so.

“As stated in the past, Hudson County has adopted this on county projects,” Lalavee said. “So has West New York, Hoboken, Guttenberg, Union City, and North Bergen. All we’re really looking for is to be sure that the people of Bayonne, when one of these machines is either in the air or on the ground working, that the residents and business owners are safe.”

Lalavee added that the push to adopt the safety regulations at the municipal level has been occurring across New Jersey.

“This is an ordinance we’re going after all throughout the state,” he said. “It’s not just Bayonne, it’s not just Hudson County. It’s everyone.”

And the crux of the issue is safety, according to Lalavee.

“We’re trying to prevent catastrophes,” he said. “This is a safety matter, this isn’t a union issue… It’s accountability on crane companies.”

Lalavee continued: “Facts and statistics speak for themselves. The last seven crane accidents, those cranes weren’t inspected properly. And that’s just the state of New Jersey.”

Council on board 

La Pelusa said he was in favor of the ordinance: “If they’ve done it without a licensed operator before, now they’re on call.”

City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski pointed out the importance of crane safety amid the city’s redevelopment boom, with 18-story buildings and more in the works. Lalavee agreed, echoing the need for safety.

“A great deal of development is coming to the city of Bayonne,” Lalavee said. “We have 40 people that are operating engineers in this city. I would hope that you guys will consider this.”

The rest of the council was in favor of the ordinance, including First Ward City Councilman Neil Carroll who was in favor of “the safety of personnel and the assurance of quality.”

Second Ward City Councilman Sal Gullace was on board, stating: “I wasn’t here the last meeting, but I watched it. I heard what [Lalavee] said, and I approve.”

And City Councilman At-Large Juan Perez also approved, adding: “I agree with my fellow council people here. Not only that, I remember the accident that happened in Jersey City with the crane. I don’t want that happening here.”

The council then voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance. Any person who operates a crane without meeting the requirements can now be fined anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 and the company fined anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000, enforced by the Building Department.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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