New York Crane Accident Prevention Guide

Cranes are among the most powerful pieces of machinery on construction sites — and the most dangerous. They involve a potentially deadly combination of heavy loads, brute force and great heights. Accidents involving cranes, hoists and derricks are responsible for an average of 22 deaths (and dozens more injuries) every year, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training.

Catastrophic crane collapses are one high-profile cause of fatalities. Others include:

  • Collisions with buildings or other equipment
  • Tipovers and rigging failures
  • Dropped loads
  • Electrocution from coming into contact with power lines

Even if you aren't directly involved in crane setup or operation, simply working close to them can be a recipe for disaster. Often, tragedies happen when a nearby construction worker gets hit by an overhead load or caught within the crane's swing radius. All workers should be aware of the risks and understand how to reduce their chances of becoming an accident statistic.

Safety Standards for Preventing Crane Accidents and Injuries

Site managers and contractors must adhere to strict safety operations whenever cranes, hoists or lifts are in use. These standards govern all aspects of lifting operations – from hiring qualified personnel and planning the site setup to maintaining the equipment in safe working order and conducting the actual lifting.

Safety measures should address all potential sources of crane-related injury or death such as:

  • Mechanical failures: Inspect the crane controls and rigging before starting work. Check the wire rope, hooks and chains for any damage. Test the hoisting mechanisms, brakes, warning lights and other critical components before lifting a full load. Notify your supervisor if you notice potential damage or malfunctions. If a crane needs repairs, clearly tag it with an out-of-order sign.
  • Electrocution: Always assume power lines are live. Maintain sufficient clearance between lifting operations and power lines. Depending on their voltage and location, you may need to use a spotter, barricade or proximity alert system to avoid collisions.
  • Falling loads: Know the maximum loading capacity for each crane setup, and never lift a load that exceeds this maximum. Never move a load over people on the ground. Block off areas below the lifting operation so workers can't straggle into the danger zone. If you're on the ground, never walk beneath a suspended load.
  • Collisions: Operators should always use a communication system such as radio and ground signals. Many cranes are equipped with proximity alerts, limiting devices and other collision avoidance systems, which can go a long way toward preventing accidents — so long as they're functioning properly. As with any electronic components, they're not foolproof.
  • Collapses and tipovers: Much of the safety work involving cranes takes place before ever lifting a load. A thorough site plan is essential for a successful operation. Likewise, proper rigging is the foundation for crane stability. The type of crane, load weight and size, soil type and composition, and lifting path all affect operations. Given the complexity of these operations — and the high stakes involved — only qualified personnel (whether riggers, operators, lift planners, engineers or signal people) should be involved.

As with other aspects of construction work, training also plays a key role in keeping workers safe.

Proven Advocacy for Crane Accident Victims and their Loved Ones

Has a crane accident left you with debilitating injuries? Have you lost a loved one in a work accident involving a crane, hoist or lift? At the New York City law firm of Block O'Toole & Murphy, our crane accident lawyers have the results-backed experience to help you pursue compensation.

Our total results for clients exceed $1 billion. This track record reflects decades of experience, in-depth legal knowledge and an overarching dedication to doing right by clients. You can expect our attorneys to bring this same level of dedication to your case.

Learn more by contacting our team for a FREE case review. You can also call 212-736-5300.