The road to recovery after a crane accident can be long and arduous. Physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial hardships can take a toll on both the injured worker and their family. Understanding the most common types of crane accidents, the environments in which they occur, and the factors contributing to these incidents is important for promoting worker safety in the New York City construction industry and other high-risk fields.
There's more than one way for a crane to malfunction
Unfortunately, work equipment and crane accidents occur more frequently than we'd like to imagine. Nationwide, about 500 fatal "struck by object or equipment" workplace accidents are reported annually. Usually, more than 40 of these deadly accidents involve cranes. These accidents often occur on construction sites, where cranes are extensively used to lift heavy materials and equipment to great heights.
New York crane accidents and risks
New York is among the top 5 states annually reporting the most fatal accidents involving cranes. Statewide, there are about two crane-related worker deaths in New York every year, according to federal data.
Certain groups of individuals are more likely to be injured or killed in crane accidents than others. Construction workers, including crane operators, extractors, riggers, and signal persons, as well as those who work in manufacturing or transportation, face a higher risk due to their proximity to these powerful machines.
Additionally, pedestrians and nearby residents can also be at risk if construction sites are not adequately secured, posing a danger to those in the vicinity. Some of the most dangerous locations for deadly crane accidents include construction sites, factories, plants, road construction sites, and dockyards.
Common types of crane accidents
Each crane accident is unique, though various incidents may share similar circumstances. Frequently, there are multiple factors involved in causing an incident. The following are some of the most common types of crane accidents.
When a crane loses balance and topples over, the movement may be sudden and forceful. The crane's boom (the horizontal arm) may swing or crash into nearby structures, equipment, or scaffolding. In this situation, the crane would continue to tilt beyond its tipping point, increasing the angle of inclination until it falls over. Tip-over accidents are often due to factors like overloading, uneven ground, or operator error.
In some cases, a falling crane or other major accident can trigger a chain reaction, causing other nearby equipment or structures to collapse or sustain damage. This can further escalate the scope of the accident and increase the risk of injuries or fatalities.
The load being lifted by the crane unexpectedly drops, leading to injuries or damage to property. Surprise drops may be due to equipment failure, improper rigging, overloading, and poor communication, among other things.
Cranes can collide with other objects, structures, cranes, or even people on construction sites, causing significant damage and potential injuries. These are often known as "struck by" or "hit by" accidents.
The boom supporting the load may experience structural failures or collapse, posing a serious risk to nearby workers. Such a failure may be due to defective or malfunctioning equipment, human error, ground shift, imbalanced weight, or an electrical short, among many other possibilities.
Problems with the rigging equipment used to secure the load, such as broken cables or faulty attachments, can result in accidents and injuries.
About 3 out of every 5 fatal crane accidents involve a worker being struck by falling equipment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Power line contact
When a crane comes into contact with an overhead power line, it can cause electrocution, fires, and severe injuries to operators and nearby workers.
Mistakes made by crane operators, such as improper use of controls, lack of training, or failure to follow safety protocols, can contribute to accidents.
Failure to prepare for bad weather
High winds, storms, and poor visibility can significantly impact crane operations, potentially leading to accidents if precautions are not taken.
Poor maintenance and inspections
Neglecting regular maintenance, inspections, and repairs can compromise the integrity of cranes and increase the likelihood of accidents.
What to do if you are injured in a New York crane accident
Crane accidents can result in life-altering injuries, leading to extensive medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress. The compassionate team at Keogh Crispi, P.C. is ready to help. To learn more about how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us today for a free consultation.