Something about crane accidents capture the imagination and horror of many. When a tragic crane accident occurs, it is often front page news, perhaps because it results in dramatic images of property damage, sometimes way up in a city’s skyline. But the severe injuries and deaths that can occur in such a situation make an accident involving a crane something not to be ogled, but avoided at all costs. Construction workers account for a disproportionate percentage of work-related fatalities yearly and are substantially more likely to receive serious injuries when compared to employees in other industries.
After a series of crane accidents making the news, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a program aimed at reducing significant injuries and deaths related to the operation of cranes in general industry, construction and maritime operations in the Pacific Northwest. And to improve compliance with its program, OSHA conducted compliance inspections, training, consultations on-site, and outreach programs. They also formed partnerships and alliances to help improve crane safety.
The guidelines that OSHA established in order to help prevent crane accident are as follows:
- Inspection of the crane by a certified crane inspector for mechanical problems before use, followed by more comprehensive regular inspections for any issues such as cracks, or worn-out, faulty or otherwise damaged
- Any repairs or modifications should be performed by a certified professional
The crane should be situated on stable and flat ground at least 10 feet away from electrical cables
- Enforce strict adherence to the maximum capacity load of the crane – which is not more than 75% of the tipping weight under U.S. standards.
- Install barriers around the construction site to prevent trespassers or other non-authorized people from getting close to the crane.
- Ensure safety devices such as the level operator are functional.
- Always have a qualified signal person to assist in crane maneuvers.
- Use of fall protection
- Use of a qualified rigger to ensure the loads are properly set
- OSHA found that wind is one of the foremost causes of crane accidents in the United States and crane operators should always factor weather, especially wind, into the operation.
- Recognize that cranes mounted on less stable platforms, such as ships and offshore surfaces, require more caution.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a crane accident, please call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 if outside the Sacramento area. Our advice is friendly and free!