The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Crane collapse kills workers:
It’s a crime that goes unpunished

Jun 2, 2008

For the second time in three months, a crane at a construction site in New York City collapsed and fell into a nearby building, killing workers. This time, on Friday, May 30, the top arm of a crane in Manhattan snapped off and plummeted to the ground, killing two workers, including the crane operator.

They were the fourteenth and fifteenth high-rise construction deaths this year.

The city swung into its usual “action,” bringing in inspectors who announced that a bad weld had broken.

A crane topples on top of a building – and they want us to believe it all depended on just one weld? Either the whole city of New York is ready to come tumbling down – or it’s another case of government BS.

The city had posted inspectors on every crane site ever since the earlier collapse of a crane on March 15 – a policy that lasted only two months, until it ended a couple days before this collapse. Clearly these inspections were worthless, if they could allow for this ticking time-bomb to continue.

As for OSHA, it was nowhere to be found in this whole affair – which should come as no surprise.

Since the OSHA Act was passed 38 years ago, roughly 341,000 workers have been killed on the job. But only 68 criminal cases have ever been prosecuted, handing down only 42 months of jail time – total, for everyone involved. Not only is OSHA a toothless, clawless watchdog, it doesn’t have any eyes, ears or nose for workplace dangers.

No one was charged for the deaths of seven workers in the March 15 crane collapse – by any agency or government.

The OSHA Act was passed at a time when a number of workers across the country were fighting about safety issues – even stopping work, many times, until a problem was addressed. In fact, OSHA was a way for the government to discourage workers from taking their own safety into their own hands.

We can see how far government “protection” can get us: nowhere, if we’re not fighting for ourselves.