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Overloaded Knuckleboom Crane Collapses Near Penn Station

An overloaded boom truck crane collapsed after the excess weight it was carrying caused a pin to break, injuring the operator and shutting down 34th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues right outside of Penn Station on the night of Monday, March 18, 2019. 

Workers from Lifting Solutions Boom Service, a Brooklyn company, were trying to install a sidewalk shed when the knuckle crane collapsed under the weight of the heavy beams it was transporting, according to FDNY chief Anthony Pascocello.

"The beams that they use for the support structure [were] overloaded on the crane as they were raising it," Pascocello told Pix11. "It's a knuckle-type boom crane, and what happened was a shear pin broke, causing the crane to collapse and crash to the ground."

The arm of the crane came down with such force that it was nearly embedded into the sidewalk, and a second crane had to be brought in to remove it. A knuckleboom truck, it should be noted, does not require a Department of Buildings permit to operate.

The operator of the boom truck suffered a foot injury in the accident, but luckily no pedestrians were in the way of the heavy arm of the crane when it came down. A large amount of hydraulic fluid pooled near the scene of the accident as emergency personnel worked well into the night to clear the area.

A statement given by Naomi Dollman, who works with Lifting Solutions, claims that this has never happened before and that this collapse was clearly the result of "an equipment malfunction." Dollman also says that the crane operator has been with the company for 15 years.

We wish a speedy recovery to the operator involved in this incident and are thankful that nobody else was in the way of the crane when it collapsed.

Crane collapses can cause catastrophic, if not fatal injuries. Just last year, two construction workers suffered severe brain and spinal injuries in a mini-crane accident in Harlem, after the crane collapsed because the maximum capacity was exceeded by nearly 1,000 pounds. Back in 2016, a 565-foot crawler crane collapsed in Tribeca, killing one man and seriously injuring three others. In 2008, nine people, including construction workers and pedestrians, were killed in two separate NYC crane collapses.

Any company that works with cranes needs to take all precautions to prevent potentially devastating crane accidents. While there are many different types of cranes which present their own unique utilities and hazards, OSHA has released general guidelines for preventing crane accidents:

  • A crane must be thoroughly inspected before it is used, before every shift
  • Cranes must be on stable ground and at least 10 feet from active electrical cables
  • Never exceed a crane's stated load capacity, and when working with a mobile crane, "the load should not be more than 75 percent of the tipping weight"
  • There should be a qualified 'signal' worker nearby who helps the operator guide and maneuver the crane load
  • Loads should be set and secured by a qualified 'rigger' who can ensure that the load won't come loose and strike somebody

These are only a few of the guidelines which regulate the safe use of cranes. Because there are so many different types, however, employers, contractors and safety managers must follow manufacturer guidelines and best safety practices to ensure they are used correctly.

In construction work, when corners are cut to try and get a job done faster, workers and pedestrians are the ones who pay the price. If you or someone you love have been injured in a crane accident and are interested in pursuing compensation for your injuries, call 212-736-5300.

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