After three construction cranes collapsed in South Florida during Hurricane Irma, officials are again calling for tighter regulation of the equipment, setting up a potential fight with an industry that has fought stricter controls.

Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell tweeted from one of the two accidents on high-rises in downtown Miami that the crane had dropped a counterweight that penetrated the asphalt when it failed.

“Regulations MUST change,” Russell wrote on Monday. “Very lucky no casualty.”



Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado also said the city should consider stricter codes.

“It’s development in the future versus tropical storms or hurricanes,” Regalado told The Miami Herald. “We just cannot gamble on the wind.”

Twenty to 25 cranes are in use at construction sites in Miami as it undergoes a building boom, and on Sunday, as Irma roared through the city, cranes fell on Biscayne Boulevard and on NE 30th Terrace. The third crane collapsed onto itself in Fort Lauderdale at the Auberge Beach Residences and Spa, an oceanfront condo complex also under construction.

The construction industry has opposed tougher laws, suing nearly 10 years ago over Miami-Dade County’s attempt to require cranes be able to withstand 140 mph winds.

The county had argued that its standards were aimed at protecting the safety of the public during hurricanes, not workers’ safety as governed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Falling cranes kill workers and non-workers alike, it said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit sided with the builders and crane operators who sued — the Associated Builders and Contractors, Florida East Coast Chapter; the South Florida Associated General Contractors of America; the Florida Crane Owners Council and the Construction Association of South Florida.

The court ruled that the county’s arguments were not persuasive. Construction job sites are closed to the public, the judges wrote. The wind standards in the county’s law were occupational safety or health regulations, covered by federal rules.

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