In September of 2006 the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) issued an alert aimed at the prevention of worker injuries and deaths from crane accidents. The NIOSH issued a strong warning about how construction and industrial workers were frequently injured or killed when working on or around mobile cranes, and due to tip-over, boom collapse, and uncontrolled hoisted loads.
In this safety alert, the NIOSH specifically requested assistance in preventing injuries and deaths of the workers that were being exposed to boom collapse, mobile crane tip-over, and uncontrolled hoisted loads. The NIOSH suggested that a number of workers may not be fully aware of the hazards associated with operating or working near mobile cranes.
Crane tip-overs frequently result from the crane being operated outside of the manufacturer’s recommended lifting capacity, whereas booms can collapse when they are overloaded, disassembled improperly, or when they are rigged improperly. Boom collapse and crane tip-overs can cause the workers to be struck by uncontrolled hoisted loads, falling objects, or from parts of the crane.
Mechanics of Cranes
Each and every crane is a highly complex machine that requires that the crane operator have considerable knowledge over the mechanics and safe operation of the machine. The only way a worker can gain knowledge of a crane is through proper training as well as hands-on experience. It’s important that the worker understand and have the ability to use the crane’s load chart in order to operate the crane safely. Each crane’s load chart has a maximum capacity for the machine, and the machine’s load chart clearly lays out the machine’s limits and conditions for safe operation.
It’s critical that each crane is properly set up, inspected, and properly maintained by the crane operator in order to ensure safe crane operation. When cranes are not set up properly or when the proper procedures aren’t followed, then the crane can become instable when the crane’s lift capacity has exceeded its limits.
When mobile cranes are mounted to barges, it is very different than a crane that is operating on land. When the crane operator lands the load, it causes the barge to lean towards the load and this leaning or tilting of the barge is referred to as list. When the crane swings or changes its angles it can also cause the barge to list; therefore, it’s important that the crane operator expect and be prepared to compensate for this swinging motion.
Crane Injury Statistics
The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) is a data system that is maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it identifies work-related fatalities in the United States. NIOSH reviewed CFOI data that identified 719 cases (deaths) between 1992 and 2002 where a mobile crane was the primary or the secondary source of fatalities. (NIOSH 2004) The injuries were as follows:
Victim struck by object from uncontrolled hoisted load or part of a mobile crane (40.3%)
Electrocution injuries from crane contacting overhead power lines or other electrical sources (24.1%)
Fall from a crane structure or the cab (12.2%)
Moving cranes from site to site (10.6%)
Caught in the moving parts of the crane (10.2%)
In a previous NIOSH alert (NIOSH 1995), the alert mainly addressed the issues over cranes and electrocution hazards, as well as the issues over workers being struck by falling or swinging objects due to tip-over, boom collapse or uncontrolled hoisted loads, which accounted for (52.8%) of the fatalities according to the CFOI data at the time.
Compensation for Crane Injuries
It’s absolutely important that employers ensure that their workers are properly trained and understand the proper use of the load charts for the cranes they are operating. It’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure that their workers comply with all of the safety requirements and regulations that are established by the OSHA, including OSHA 29 CFR 1910.180 (general industry cranes) and 29 CFR 1918.66 (maritime, cranes and derricks other than vessel’s gear) among others.
Employers also need to ensure the following: 1) that all cranes are inspected and properly maintained, 2) that all crane operators are properly trained and qualified, 3) that communication moves smoothly between the crane operator ad riggers, as well as the spotters, supervisors, and all the other workers near the crane, 4) follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for assembly and disassembly of the crane, 5) ensure the wire rope is in good condition, 6) to keep workers clear of hoisted loads, 7) follow proper safety protocol when working near power lines, and 8) use standard hand signals.
If you were injured in a crane accident, whether on land or offshore, or if your loved one was killed in a crane accident, then you are urged to contact a crane injury attorney from The Doan Law Firm, P.C. without delay. The majority of crane accidents are a direct result of negligence, whether it involved poor maintenance, or over-loading, or some other type of error. If you sustained injuries in a crane accident, then you deserve ample compensation for the losses you have sustained, contact the firm today.