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Crane injuries have become an increasing concern for agencies that regulate safety for construction sites. In September of 2006, the National Institute of Occupational Safety issued a national alert that was focused on increasing the awareness of the need to reduce the rate of injuries and deaths associated with crane accidents. The NIOSH issued a very stern warning that focused on the frequency and the manner in which industrial workers were being injured and killed as a result of crane-related accidents. Some of the causes mentioned in the warning include boon collapse, top-over, uncontrolled hoisted loads and more.

In the safety alert issued by the NIOSH, a point was made to request the assistance of construction companies in preventing the injuries and deaths that were becoming far too common due to employees being exposed to uncontrolled hoisted loads, mobile crane tip-overs and boon collapses. It was also suggested that it is likely that a significant number of industrial workers were not clearly aware of the high risk of injury and death associated with operating or working in close proximity to mobile cranes.

One of the most common causes of mobile crane tip-overs is operating the crane outside the parameters of the manufacturer's recommended maximum lifting capacity. Additionally, boons normally collapse due to improper assembly or disassembly, and they can also collapse as a result of being overloaded or being improperly rigged. When either of these malfunctions take place, it can workers at risk by causing the working to be struck by uncontrolled loads, parts of the crane itself or struck by falling objects. Because of the height from which these items are falling and the exorbitant weight of the objects, the injuries are normally of the catastrophic variety.

Mechanics of Cranes

While they may appear simple in design and function, every crane is a highly complex mechanism that requires an exceptionally high skill capacity by the operator. In addition to equipment failure, operator error is another cause of crane-related accidents. There are two ways that a crane operator gains the expertise necessary to effectively and safely operate a crane — through proper training and supervised hands-on experience. One of the most important things that the operator must master is the understanding and use of the crane's load chart, which is vital to developing the ability to safely operate the crane. Every crane has a load chart, and that chart will reveal the maximum load capacity for the crane, and this chart, which great specificity, outlines the limitations of the machine. Any time that a crane operator chooses to operate a crane outside of the parameters of the specifications for that machine, they place themselves and their coworkers at a significantly higher risk of catastrophic injury of death.

It is vital that the crews that set up the crane, set it up properly, and it is equally vital that the crane is properly inspected upon being set up. Also, proper maintenance of the crane is also essential to ensure that the crane operates safely. When crews fail to set up a crane properly and proper procedures are not followed, it is possible for the crane to become unstable, especially when its lifting capacity is exceeded.

Another danger that is prevalent in crane operation, is operating on a barge, which is significantly different than operating a crane on land. When a crane operator lifts a load while operating a crane from a barge, the crane will lean toward the load, an action that is known as a list. Additionally, when the crane swings its load, it can cause the barge to list as well, making it immensely important that the crane operator be aware of this process and be prepared for it, in order to properly compensate for the swinging motion that is created during the list.

Crane Injury Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains a national database that monitors the fatal injuries associated with occupation. This database is known as The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, and it identifies work-related fatalities in the United States. Between 1992 and 2002, NIOSH identified 719 cases of work-related fatalities that were either directly or indirectly attributed to crane accidents.

The injury attributes were as follows:

  • Victims who were struck by a part of a mobile crane or an object from an uncontrolled hoisted load (40.3%)
  • Injuries associated with electrocution due to the crane making contact with overhead power lines or any other electrical source (24.1)
  • Falling from the cab of the crane or from some part of the crane structure (12.2)
  • Moving mobile cranes from one site to another (10.6%)
  • Caught in the moving mechanisms of the crane (10.2%)
  • Other (2.6%)

Prior to the current warning, the NIOSH issued a previous warning that focused on the hazards associated with electrocution concerns, in addition to workers be struck by swinging or falling objects as a result of a tip-over, uncontrolled hoisted load or boon collapse, which accounted for 52.8 percent of the fatalities associated with cranes.

Compensation for Crane Injuries

It is important that industrial employers make sure that their crane operators are properly trained, and that all personnel are adequately informed of the risks involved with work on or near a mobile crane. It is also the employer's responsibility to ensure that all workers comply the safety regulations and requirements established by OSHA.

If you are a family member has been injured as a result of a crane accident, whether offshore or on land, then we urge you to contact The Doan Law Firm in order to speak with one of our crane injury attorneys. The vast majority of crane accidents is a direct result of negligence, whether it is poor maintenance, overloading or some other error. If you have been injured in a crane accident, you deserve to recover compensation for your injuries and other damages, and we will fight for every dime that you deserve.

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