Construction companies use cranes every day in Florida, and thousands more go to work across the rest of the United States. Cranes are useful pieces of equipment, but when someone uses them improperly, they can be quite dangerous. They can be hazardous to people below the crane’s operational area as well as to the crane operator and any crew tasked with climbing and repairing them. Accidents can also occur when a crane collapses, and such incidents often lead to fatalities.
Causes of Crane Accidents
Cranes are massive, complicated machines, and a lot can go wrong in and around them to cause serious accidents. According to an OSHA-conducted survey, the most common causes of crane accidents are:
- The boom or another section of the crane coming into contact with live power lines
- Malfunction of a lifting device under the crane’s hook
- Cranes that overbalance and turn over
- Dropped loads
- Collapse of the boom (the long arm of the crane)
- Crushing by the counter weight
- Malfunctioning or improper use of outriggers
- Falls from the crane
- Failure of the crane’s rigging
Injuries Resulting From Crane Accidents
Because crane accidents can take a variety of forms, injuries resulting from those accidents vary. If the crane comes into contact with power lines, the operator or anyone in contact with the crane may suffer electrical shocks if the crane is not properly grounded. The crane may also knock down the lines, creating an electrical hazard for anyone who happens to be in the vicinity.
An overbalanced crane can easily tip and roll over, possibly injuring or killing the operator and anyone who happened to be standing in the area. An overturning crane will also drop its load and may damage nearby structures, causing rubble to fall. A crane’s outriggers are supposed to help increase its stability, but if they malfunction or someone misuses them, they can have the opposite effect and overturn the crane.
Dropped loads, which can happen if the lifting device under the hook fails to connect the rig to the load, pose serious danger to any person under the load. If the boom collapses and falls, it also poses a risk to people underneath it as well as to the rest of the crane.
The crane’s counter weight provides it with the ability to lift its massive loads. The counter weight itself is necessarily extremely heavy and can easily crush almost anything beneath it should the weight come down on top of it.
Cranes can raise loads to a great height. If something goes wrong with a crane that requires someone to climb part of a crane to fix it, that person is also going to be at risk of a fall. There is always safety equipment to prevent such a fall, but if that equipment is defective or if the person is not properly trained in its use, accidents can happen.
Liability for Crane Accidents
When a person is injured or killed in a crane accident, it can be incredibly difficult to ascertain who exactly is liable. Crane accidents can be the fault of one of the many manufacturers of the crane’s parts, the crane operator, the manager or supervisor of the construction site, or other parties.
Construction workers who are injured in crane accidents or families of a worker killed in an accident can almost always receive worker’s compensation. Sometimes, though, worker’s compensation does not cover all the costs of such an injury. Additionally, people may be injured who were not working with the construction crew.
Residents in Florida who have suffered from a crane accident can contact attorney Brandon Stein for a free review of their cases. The team at SteinLaw will explore all the legal options available to our potential clients and help them begin planning a case.