Crane and Construction Accidents
Almost 200 construction workers are killed in approximately 400 fatal crane accidents throughout the country each year. There are two types of cranes: overhead cranes and mobile cranes. Overhead cranes are large, free-standing structures that are comprised of one tall support beam and a horizontal beam connected to the support beam that houses a control booth and a hook-and-line mechanism.
Overhead cranes are stationary and are usually installed at large-scale construction sites that involve erecting a new building. Mobile cranes, on the other hand, are miniature cranes mounted on top of trucks that are easily transportable for smaller construction jobs. The vast majority of individuals injured by crane accidents are workers employed at the construction site, including laborers, electricians, and welders.
In addition, crane operators are also commonly killed. While cranes are used in a mix of public government projects and private projects, the majority of fatalities and injuries occur in the private construction industry. California consistently ranks as the third most dangerous state in the U.S. for construction accidents.Common Causes of Crane Accidents
Crane accidents are commonly caused by:
- Collisions with construction equipment or vehicles
- Falling debris and equipment
- Trapped between the crane and other equipment
- Run over by the crane
- Struck by objects
- Falls from the crane structure
- Crane tips over
- Driver error
The construction industry is one of the more dangerous fields of work. On any given day, 125,000 cranes are in operation with 250,000 workers sharing operator responsibilities. Hundreds of accidents occur each year due to negligence. In response to the increase of injuries and fatalities on construction worksites, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires frequent inspection of the cranes, training for all operators, safety equipment, and protocol, and proper supervision of employees. A large number of crane accidents are caused by negligence and are preventable. OSHA, a federal regulatory agency, along with the state of California, implemented a variety of safety regulations concerning the operation and use of cranes at work sites. Some of these regulations require:
- Operating cranes below power lines if the electricity has not been shut off.
- Providing education and training courses for new operators.
- Having emergency response and safety protocol in place to follow in the event of an accident.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 6.4 million workers in the construction industry. 400 crane accidents seem fairly minuscule compared to the overall size of the industry. While construction companies may call these unfortunate events ‘freak accidents’ in order to encourage workers to undertake the inherent risks associated with working with cranes, ‘freak accident’ connotes an accident that occurs suddenly, unpredictably, and without rhyme or reason. Crane accidents are not freak accidents. They are most often caused by negligence. By its very nature, negligence is preventable and causes foreseeable harm.
Construction companies owe a duty of care to construction workers to keep the work site free of dangerous conditions and defects. If the construction company is aware of or should have known about a dangerous condition or defect, the company can be liable for any accidents caused by the dangerous condition. Dangerous conditions include malfunctioning cranes, poorly constructed cranes, and improperly secured equipment. If the accident causes foreseeable harm, the construction company may be responsible for paying personal injury damages to the victim.Damages
Crane accident compensation may include:
- Lost past and future wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Construction Accident attorney with the primary accident information site on the web, AutoAccident.com. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a crane or construction accident caused by the negligence of another, call me now at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400.
We are members of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 3.25.20]