Cranes reaching for the sky in New York City are a common site, which makes crane accidents unfortunately common as well. The New York Times tells a story of a large air conditioning unit that fell 30 stories to the ground after the lifting tether being used gave way. The city responded with 150 firefighters to keep people away from the badly damaged building, but no one was killed in the incident.
Then there is the story told by the New York Daily News of a construction safety inspector who was pinned by a damaged crane arm and died. It is always horrible to hear about a construction fatality, but a crane accident is something that often does not have to happen. When workers follow safety guidelines, they can prevent these accidents and create a safer workplace.
Identifying The Cause Of Crane Accidents
According to the Crane Inspection and Certification Bureau, human error is responsible for nine out of every 10 crane accidents. Whether it is an operator who is not paying attention or a payload that is not secured properly, many crane accidents occur because workers are not following the proper safety guidelines.
It is estimated that as many as 80 material handling workers are killed every year in crane accidents. While some accidents occur from swinging the boom arm improperly or due to workers being in areas that the operators cannot see, it is estimated that 80 percent of all crane accidents occur because the arm is overloaded. Another startling statistic about crane accidents is that one out of every two crane accidents is fatal.
Construction Experiences The Most Problems
Other industries such as manufacturing and mining utilize cranes, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that the majority of crane fatalities every year are attributed to construction accidents. Construction fatalities due to cranes are more than the fatalities in manufacturing and mining combined. This is definitely an issue that the construction industry is concerned about, and is addressing.
The Results Of Crane Accidents
The worst result from a crane accident comes from the injuries received by workers. Fatalities due to construction
crane accidents absolutely represent a worst case scenario. But construction companies face a series of other issues that come with crane accidents that can cost a lot of money. They include:
- Lost time
- The need to hire new employees
- Potential equipment repairs
- OSHA fines
- Possible fines from the job owner
It Is Up To The Construction Industry To Make Changes
When 90 percent of a particular type of accident occurs because of human error, it is up to the people involved to make changes that will stop those accidents from happening. The sad part about crane accidents is that they do result in injuries and, in some cases, death. But if construction companies can use crane accidents as opportunities to learn, then these types of accidents can be stopped. See our previous post about preventing crane accidents here.
Construction companies need to make sure that they have experienced and licensed operators on their cranes, and their needs to be qualified safety officers on-site as well. The workers responsible for securing loads should be trained on how to do their jobs, and operators should be actively involved in determining how much each load should weight to keep the loads safe.
When construction crews work together on crane accident issues, then they can reduce the human error that causes those accidents. There may never be a point where crane accidents are completely gone, but removing those nine out of 10 accidents that occur due to human error can help to save lives and keep construction costs down.