Heavy equipment is a necessary part of the construction industry and crane accidents are responsible for a large portion of construction injuries and deaths each year. Cranes are complex machines that many individuals are peripherally aware of but few have experience operating or rigging. There are many different types of cranes used in construction that have caused accidents resulting in significant injuries and death to workers who operate the cranes, workers on foot below these cranes, and innocent bystanders who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Given the size and power of available cranes, the potential for injury at sites or operations utilizing cranes without proper planning and safety procedures is tremendous. Cranes must be inspected and used properly. Many fatalities and injuries occur when the crane boom, load line or load contacts power lines and shorts electricity. Other incidents happen when workers are struck by the load, are caught inside the swing radius, or fail to assemble/disassemble the crane properly. It is important to understand why these construction accidents occur to help prevent future accidents and resulting injuries to construction workers and the surrounding public.
The most common types of cranes associated with these accidents that cause injury and death are Mobile Cranes, Tower Cranes, Floating Cranes and Overhead Cranes. To be clear though, there are many different kinds of cranes and all pose very serious risks of injury. The following are just some examples of the different types of cranes one might see at a construction site:
A mobile crane is a crane that has a telescope boom (arm) or steel truss that mounts on a moving platform. Either pulleys or levers raise the boom. Generally a hook suspends from the boom. The platform of a mobile crane can either have traditional wheels, wheels designed for railroad tracks, or a caterpillar track, which is useful for navigating unpaved and uneven surfaces. Mobile cranes can be used for demolition or earthmoving. Mobile Cranes account for at least 71% of all crane related accidents (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Research). The most common cause of mobile crane accidents is instability, when the crane tips over due to an unsecured load, when the load capacity is being exceeded, or when the ground is not level or is too soft. Workers need to take special precautions before utilizing these types of cranes to make sure they are secure and properly grounded before use.
Loader cranes have hydraulic powered booms fitted onto trailers. They load goods onto the trailer and the jointed sections of the boom are folded down when not in use. Workers must use great caution when operating these types of cranes to make sure no persons are in the radius of the boom swing.
Overhead cranes, commonly called bridge cranes, consists of parallel runways with a traveling bridge spanning the gap. A hoist, the lifting component of a crane, travels along the bridge. Overhead cranes are typically used for either manufacturing or maintenance applications, where efficiency or downtime are critical factors.
Floating cranes mounted on barges or pontoons are essential to the shipping industry. Situated in water, they are used to construct ports, salvage ships or build bridges. Floating cranes can also unload ships.
Tower cranes, which we see often in the construction of high-rise buildings here in New York City, do not generally have a moving base. These are often the tallest cranes, and have to be assembled piece by piece. The base looks like a long ladder, and the boom is perpendicular to the base. Tower cranes are used to construct tall buildings, and in the case of skyscrapers, the tower crane is often assembled and affixed inside the building itself during construction. Tower cranes have additional safety concerns because of their positioning at such elevated levels of construction and because of the length of the equipment itself, such as wind speed, metal fatigue, and the fact that often times the crane operators can’t even see the load they are carrying. With Tower cranes additional safety devices are necessary and safety precautions need be established and strictly followed.
Crane accidents, like all heavy equipment accidents, can have catastrophic results to the injured worker and their families. If you or a loved one have been injured on a construction site, you may be entitled to compensation, in addition to worker’s compensation, which often falls too short of adequately compensating victims of construction accidents for their pain and suffering, loss of income and medical expenses. Contact experienced New York construction accident lawyers Block O’Toole & Murphy to find out what legal options you may have. To learn more about the firm go to www.blockotoole.com.