Why Working with Cranes at Construction Sites is So Dangerous

Posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2018 at 9:51 am    

Most construction work, especially building new public or private structures such as homes and offices, requires that cranes be used to lift, lower, and move workers, equipment, materials, and tools. In addition, many large manufacturing operations require cranes to move heavy equipment and assemblies into place. Injuries from crane accidents can cause death, catastrophic injuries, broken bones, bruises, amputations, neck and back pain, electrocution, lacerations, damage to internal organs, and a host of long-term problems. Catastrophic injuries include spinal cord damage, paralysis, and traumatic brain injury – all of which can prevent a worker from ever having gainful employment again.

Each type of crane has its own dangers.

  • Tower cranes operate at great heights
  • Crawler cranes operate on tracks/crawlers that guide the movement of the cane. These cranes often weigh a lot and move heavy tons of materials. Being struck by one or any object dropped by such a crane may mean instant death.
  • Other types of cranes include overhead cranes, railroad canes, all-terrain cranes, aerial cranes, and floating cranes.

Types of construction site crane accidents

While there is no requirement that an injured worker prove fault, the best way to protect any crane accidents is to avoid accidents in the first place. We have represented severely injured workers hurt by falling debris from a crane. Some of the major reasons crane accidents happen include:

  • Cranes that collide with other cranes, buildings, and nearby objects. Safe crane operation requires proper planning. Sightlines should be visible so that the crane doesn’t strike oil rigs, workers who have already been lifted to great heights, other cranes in the construction site area, and any temporary or permanent buildings. There should be communication between all workers in the area so everyone knows when and where the crane will move. A signalperson should guide the movement of the crane along with the crane operator. Cranes swing around across a wide radius. Anything in the path of the crane swing can be easily hurt or killed.
  • Overhead powerlines. Operators need to check for powerlines at the construction site. The operators and supervisors should assume that the lines are live. In some cases, the lines need to be grounded or deenergized. Extra precautions such as alarms that signal when the crane is too close to the powerline, barricades, or signal persons may be required. Contact with a crane can cause anyone nearby to die from electrocution.
  • Falling materials. The manufacturer requirements should be studied before the crane is placed into operation so that the load is below the safety limits. How the loads are weighed should be clear. The crane apparatus including ropes should be inspected frequently. If the load falls, it can easily strike and kill any workers on the ground or in the vicinity of the crane. In addition, the ‘S’ hooks and other equipment used to attach loads can become damaged and worn over time. They should be frequently inspected and replaced if worn. Even a load that is within the safety limitations of the crane can easily slip out of a worn or defective hook.
  • Tipping-over. Crane stability is a major concern sine most constructions sites don’t have level surfaces. Cranes are constantly running over holes, inclines, and surfaces made of different materials. Civil engineers or other types of engineers may be required to inspect the soil and ground before the crane is used. In some cases, the ground surface may need to dry or be stabilized before the crane is operated.
  • Road-accidents. More and more construction sites are using mobile cranes instead of assembling them at the construction site. The magnitude and awkwardness of these vehicles can create havoc for other drivers on the road. Mobile cranes can make it hard to see. It can be hard to gage how mobile cranes are going to turn.

Some additional reasons why crane accidents happen

  • Bad weather. Cranes should not be operated when the weather conditions are windy or the weather is inclement – foggy, raining, snowing, lightening, or even too sunny.
  • Lack of training. It takes a lot of skill to operate a crane. Some cranes require that the operator have an approved certification. Operators should follow manufacturer and OSHA safety guidelines and not rely on their personal judgment alone.
  • Collapse of the crane boom. There are safe limits on how far the crane boon should be extended. If the crane is extended too far, the crane operator and others near the site can be severely injured
  • Faulty assembly and disassembly. The manufacture guidelines must be followed to prevent injury or death to workers.

OSHA crane operation requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has numerous regulations that employers must follow to help protect employees and all workers. These guidelines are based on recommendations by engineers, employers, and many other professionals and businesses. Some of these guidelines include:

  • Specific education and certification requirements
  • A prohibition against operating cranes in unsafe work areas and informing the operators about these unsafe areas
  • The precise safe distance requirements that cranes must meet when power lines are around. Typically, the cranes should operate more than ten feet away from the power lines
  • Danger areas should be clearly marked with fences and other barricades
  • Cranes should be routinely inspected and maintained. This includes ropes, cables, and all related crane parts
  • Cranes should be operated so they comply with the manufacturer’s specifications

OSHA also has specific requirements for when crane operation is allowed and when it isn’t based on specific wind speeds – as well as other regulations.

Speak with an experienced North Carolina or Virginia Worker’s Compensation Lawyer Today

The insurance company for the employer will fight to deny your claim, force you back to work too son, and limit the amount of your benefits. They’re all about the money. Attorney Joe Miller is all about the person. For more than 25 years, he’s helped workers get the wage loss and medical benefits they deserve. He works hard so that employees return to work when they’re ready – if they’re ever ready. He works with families who have tragically lost a loved one due to an injury on the job. For help now, please phone attorney Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671. You can also arrange to speak with him or provide information to evaluate your case through his online contact form.