The construction industry has a notorious reputation for dangerous working conditions and serious worker accidents. Construction workers are constantly expected to handle heavy loads, use complicated tools, work at great heights, and operate dangerous machinery – including cranes. Cranes are essential in the construction industry for heavy lifting and can make moving large loads significantly easier. Many construction sites rely on cranes to speed up projects and potentially cut costs; however, cranes are very dangerous and even the smallest crane accident can have deadly consequences.
Cranes are typically very large, heavy machines that can be hundreds of feet tall and weigh up to 400,000 pounds. Crane accidents or collapses can cause significant damage to a worksite, delaying projects and potentially shutting down a construction site entirely, but the damage is not always limited to the area under construction – surrounding properties can suffer serious structural damage. Crane accidents are also known to cause serious injuries to workers and even nearby pedestrians. Those injuries are often life-altering and can even be fatal. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does require cranes to be safely secured and operated, many construction companies do not take the time to do so, which result in crane accidents and even a total crane collapse.
One such accident occurred when a large tower crane on the construction site for the new Google Seattle campus collapsed killing four people – two workers and two people just driving by the construction site. Experts concluded after an investigation that the crane was not being dismantled properly, and with high winds in the area, it collapsed. This was an entirely preventable accident that killed four people. Sadly, this is not uncommon. Only a few months later, a crane collapsed in Dallas, TX and fell onto an apartment building during a storm with high winds. One person was killed and five others injured. An OSHA investigation found the construction company involved neither properly maintained the crane nor inspected it regularly. To save time, a construction company may skip inspections of their equipment or let parts get rusty. This can easily lead to preventable accidents that hurt or kill innocent people.
In 2019, OSHA reported 16 serious crane accidents that involved a worker being injured or killed when operating or working near a crane. OSHA statistics only include information about employees who are working on the specific jobsite. They do not include information about pedestrians or people living in nearby buildings that may be injured or killed due to a crane accident. When a crane accident occurs, OSHA investigates and if the agency finds fault, it can fine that company for putting workers in danger, but that does not help the workers or pedestrians who have been injured or killed.
What can be done to keep workers and people passing by safe from serious crane accidents? Managers and supervisors in charge of the worksite must be more vigilant about crane safety and maintenance to keep accidents from happening. Following all safety and maintenance protocols, and not taking unnecessary short cuts can also prevent crane accidents and collapses.
Here are a few crane safety tips from OSHA to follow:
- Cranes should only be operated by qualified and trained personnel.
- A designated competent person must inspect the crane and all crane controls before use.
- Be sure the crane is on a firm/stable surface and level.
- During assembly/disassembly, do not unlock or remove pins unless sections are blocked and secure (stable).
- Do not exceed the load chart capacity while making lifts.
- Do not move loads over workers.
- Be sure to follow signals and manufacturer instructions while operating cranes.
Texas Construction Accident Attorneys
Unfortunately, crane accidents are all too common in Texas. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a crane or construction accident injury, we can help. Contact the Houston trial attorneys at Adame Garza LLP for a free case evaluation today. There is limited time to act, so reach out for help for you and your family as soon as possible.