The Legislature has been considering such safety legislation for five years, but this measure zipped through with little dissent in the wake of a fatal accident last fall in Bellevue.

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Gov. Christine Gregoire on Tuesday signed a ripped-from-the-headlines law that gives Washington some of the country’s strictest regulations of construction cranes and crane operators.

The Legislature has been considering such safety legislation for five years, but this measure zipped through with little dissent in the wake of a fatal accident last fall in Bellevue.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Deb Eddy, D-Kirkland, said the accident forged consensus both in and out of the crane industry and showed “there’s a real danger with these huge pieces of machinery sitting there.”

The new law will require the state Department of Labor and Industries to set up a certification program for cranes used in construction, including inspection, regular testing and other requirements. Certified operators must have up to 2,000 hours of experience, and apprentice operators must work under certified supervisors.

On Nov. 16, a 210-foot tower crane collapsed in downtown Bellevue, killing Matt Ammon, a 31-year-old Microsoft attorney, and damaging three buildings.

The crane was installed at Tower 333, a 20-story office building under construction at 108th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Fourth Street.

Two weeks after that accident, another tower crane in Bellevue was dismantled because of cracks that investigators blamed on water seeping into the steel legs and freezing.

“We cannot allow a repeat of the tragedy from last November,” Gregoire said Tuesday. “The new safety regulations in the bill will make work sites safer for all workers, not just those who operate cranes.”

After the accident, Bellevue city officials made crane safety one of their lobbying priorities in Olympia.

The new law “addresses what had been a glaring gap in the public-safety process,” Bellevue city spokesman Tim Waters said. “Anything that enhances safety in the workplace is obviously a good thing.”

Ammon’s family, who live on the East Coast, visited Eddy in Olympia and supported the bill, she said. “They were simply happy that some good had come of the situation,” she said.

The bill won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2010, to give the crane industry and state regulators time to adjust to the new rules.

Seattle Times staff reporter Ashley Bach contributed to this story.