Cranes move large heavy loads in a variety of workplace settings, including in the manufacturing and construction industries. Despite technological advances in cranes and in the industries in which cranes are used, crane accidents still routinely occur and significant safety issues remain for crane operators and those working near them. Crane accidents most often involve construction workers, electricians, welders, and other similar workers. According to the Center of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), 44 crane-related deaths occur every year in the United States; and, Texas is home to the largest number of fatal crane incidents.
Some of the most common types of crane accidents include:
- Boom failure or boom collapse: Extending a crane boom father than is recommended often affects its ability to carry loads. The heavier the load on an overextended boom, the bigger the potential problem, since this increases the pressure on a crane’s hydraulic, mechanical, and structural components, which may cause the boom to collapse.
- Crane collapse: Not all crane collapses involve a large tower crane; in fact, most involve the failure of smaller cranes such as truck-mounted cranes. No matter a crane’s size, a collapse is almost always the result of negligence.
- Crane overturns: Overloading a crane beyond its capacity or positioning a crane on uneven ground can make it tip over. To alleviate safety concerns, workers should mind weight guidelines and inspect the ground before working with a crane.
- Dropped load: If a load is overweight, improperly secured, or unbalanced, it can cause a crane accident. These accidents are avoidable if proper safety protocols are enforced and workers are properly trained in handling heavy equipment.
- Electrical contact: Cranes are often operated near power lines, which can cause them to come into contact with these power lines and lead to electrocution. OSHA has found that 45 percent of crane accidents are caused by the boom or crane making contact with energized power lines. To keep worksites safe for crane operators, both workers and crane operators should monitor where power lines are located.
Common Causes of Crane Accidents
Cranes are usually the largest piece of equipment on a worksite, so cranes tend to cause more accidents than any other piece of machinery. Many things can go wrong when heavy machinery and equipment like a crane are involved in a workplace accident, but our personal injury lawyers commonly see the following cause and contribute to crane accidents:
- Inadequate training or lack of training: Everyone who works with or near a crane should be trained in how to work safely with it and near it
- Improper crane selection: Those running a job site may select the wrong crane for the job it is supposed to be doing and that selection can have devastating consequences
- Overloaded crane: Every crane manufacturer conducts testing to determine how much weight a crane can safely lift. If the user of that crane does not abide by the weight being, an accident can happen to cause injuries and even death
- Crane operator inexperience: Whether the operator has a lack of experience with the job site, type of load, or type of crane, any deficit can cause or contribute to an occupational catastrophe
- Failure to inspect the crane: Cranes should be thoroughly inspected by a certified crane inspector or else they run the risk of a mechanical failure
- Human error: 93 percent of crane accidents are caused by human error
- Incorrect assembly: Assembling or disassembling a crane is incredibly complex, so only trained workers should assemble, modify, or disassemble cranes, and that work should always be supervised by a qualified professional
- Crane is not on a stable, level surface: All cranes must be positioned with maximum stability in order to work safely
- Moving loads over workers or pedestrians: Crane operators should not create unnecessary risk by moving loads over other people, whether it’s their fellow workers or passersby
- Poor weather: Weather conditions matter with regard to safe crane operation and so if winds are too strong or rain is too intense, those in charge should reevaluate work plans
- Not following proper safety measures: Federal safety agencies, state safety regulators, and employers themselves all have rules about how to safely operate machinery like a crane and those rules and regulations should be followed at all times
Crane Accident Injuries
Crane accidents are almost always life-changing for those impacted. When victims have sustained serious injuries because of cranes on a worksite, they should be able to focus on healing and recovery. Because of the size and force of a crane, along with the weight of the potential load it can carry, crane accident injuries are generally very severe and include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Wrongful death
Houston Crane Accident Attorneys
Most crane accidents result in a very serious injury or in wrongful death. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a crane accident, you should consult with an experienced injury lawyer about your legal rights. Crane accidents are complex legally as there are often numerous parties who may be liable and technically as they involve various workplace specifics. In order to protect yourself and ensure you received the maximum possible financial compensation, you should contact an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible.