As recently as 2009, more than 300 injuries of workers accounting for 200 deaths were reported to have been caused by crane accidents in the United States. Construction site cranes are large and moveable instruments that have the potential for great danger on the construction site. The workers who are exposed to possible injury include the operator of the crane and other workers on the ground and surrounding areas.
There are more than 250,000 crane operators, with as many as 125,000 cranes in operation today in the construction industry. There are another 80,000-100,000 cranes in general and maritime industries in use now. According to the Bureau of Labor Statics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 79 crane operation related deaths occur each year. This includes not just crane accidents, but derricks, hoists and hoisting accessories. The Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that on average 71 workers are killed each year in crane accidents in general industry and construction.
One of the most common causes of crane accidents is the failure to properly train crane operators in the safety guidelines that are required. The crane is usually the largest piece of equipment on the construction site.
Most crane accidents causing injury are related to:
- the failure to use the crane within the manufacturer’s specifications;
- bad weather, including high winds; and
- unsafe conditions around the crane and the crane operator.
In addition, it is imperative that the construction site supervisors utilize the correct and safe crane for the job. The most common injuries caused by cranes are from compression injuries, contact with electrical lines causing electrocution, objects and debris falling from the crane or simply being run over by a crane itself.
Most crane injuries on construction sites are preventable. Cranes come in varieties that include on mobile vehicles, trucks and rail mounted cranes. There are also overhead cranes which are the ones that are involved in most of the worker injuries and deaths. In working around cranes, workers on the ground have a great responsibility to the crane operator. Crane operators insist that the only safe way to operate the crane is to receive hand signals from just one designated worker on the ground. This will prevent confusion and decrease the risk of injuries to those working on the ground or on flatbed trucks, buildings and the like. Workers on the ground working with the crane operator are often called upon to take charge of outriggers and chokers. In one reported cases a worker forgot to set the outriggers. No one was seriously injured but that mistake could have been tragic.
In another case a crane operator mistakenly dropped the 43 meter long steel beam was said to weigh 209 tons. It was to be part of an elevated rail track. The beam dropped 12 meters killing four workers on the ground.
Crane operators are also vulnerable to serious injury. A crane operator died when he was hit by a falling hook block which crashed through his cab roof. In that case the crane operator was in a crawler crane at a bridge construction site.
Crane operations are also dangerous to the crane operator because of the risk of the crane itself toppling over. In a construction project, a crane was reported to have overturned severely damaging the building below and injury the operator.
OSHA has identified the major causes of cranes accidents leading to injuries and death. They are contact with power lines, overturning the crane, falls and mechanical failures. The best way to prevent these accidents is for supervisors to insist on safety instructions, daily safety meetings and avoid mishandling assignments. Safety must be made the highest priority to the site manager, lift planner, riggers, signal person, other workers on site and the crane operator. If safety rules are followed, the risk of injury or death to the crane operator and other ground workers will be reduced.
If you or someone you know or love has been injured or killed in a construction site crane accident, please call us for an immediate free consultation. Robert Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago and Illinois construction site crane accidents for more than 40 years.
With our years of experience in trying and settling construction site crane accidents, Kreisman Law Offices provides the best possible services to our clients and have achieved unsurpassed results. Our service is unmatched. Please call us 24 hours a day at 312.346.0045 or toll free 800.583.8002 for a free and immediate consultation, or complete a contact form online. There is no charge for a consultation that will include an evaluation of your case, assessment of your damages such as lost income, lost wages, medical and hospital bills, past and future pain and suffering, loss of normal life and wrongful death.