Cranes are frequently used in construction when building skyscrapers and moving materials around a job sit. However, the use of cranes are not just limited to the construction industry or developers and construction companies. In fact, cranes are frequently used in shipping and maritime industries for loading and unloading freight. Furthermore, most oil rigs and other offshore platforms are routinely equipped with at least one crane.
The simple fact of the matter is that cranes can be an extremely useful. They are an efficient way to hoist materials that are much heavier than any human could lift. When operated and maintained properly, cranes rarely fail. Unfortunately, use and exposure to the elements plus improper maintenance, the negligence of others, and manufacturing defects can make cranes can be exceedingly dangerous and lethal machinery. In fact, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that crane accidents take the lives of 89 people in the United States every year and cause thousands of devastating and catastrophic injuries.
Have Crane Accidents Occurred in Philadelphia or in Pennsylvania?
While some people seem to believe that crane accidents have not occurred in Philadelphia, it is important to note that this does not bear out in reality. Philadelphia is currently in the midst of a building boom as new skyscrapers crop up along the rapidly expanding skyline. Aside from a building boom, Philadelphia’s location on the Delaware River and along the I-95 corridor means is also home to a vibrant shipping industry. Whether one works at the docks or builds skyscrapers, it is highly likely you will have interactions with a crane. While most day-to-day usage of a crane is routine and unremarkable, serious injuries can and do occur.
For instance, consider the 2010 injury of a construction worker at the National Museum of American Jewish History due to a crane mishap. Or consider the 2013 crane fire in the South Philadelphia Navy Yard. Furthermore, consider the 2014 death of a Penn State student who fell to his death from an unsecured crane.
Crane Accidents Can Injure Pedestrians and Bystanders
Crane accidents pose a danger to not only workers but also to bystanders. When a crane boom collapses or fails, thousands of pounds of materials may go tumbling to the ground, crushing anyone who may be below. Boom collapses often occur when the crane is overloaded beyond its maximum capacity or was improperly assembled. Overloading cranes can also result in crane tip-over and place operators at risk for falling or being crushed under the weight of the crane. Accidents may also occur when crane rigging and cables break or fail, with mechanical failures, when working within the swing radius and getting struck by the counterweight, and if the ground surface is insufficient or unstable to support the weight of the load. Electrocution accidents are common when booms come into contact with overhead power lines. Many of these types of crane accidents end in disaster with workers sustaining life-threatening injuries, and often death.
What Is the Most Common Cause of Crane Injuries and Deaths?
According to OSHA statistics, the main causes of death at construction sites and other worksites can be described as a “fatal four.” The fatal four are:
- Falls — Falls from objects, like cranes, accounted for 359 out of 899 total deaths in construction in 2014 (39.9% percent of construction fatalities).
- Electrocutions – A failure to check for live wires can result in the electrocution of the worker when the metal crane makes contact. Electrocutions accounted for 74 or 8.2% of deaths in 2014.
- Struck by Object – Objects swinging from a crane can arc wildly when the wind and other conditions are not taken into account. Struck by object injuries accounts for 73 or 8.1 percent of deaths in 2014.
- Caught-in/between* – Being caught-in or caught between machinery can cause gruesome and grisly crushing injuries. Injuries of this type accounted for 4.3% of deaths.
What makes cranes potentially dangerous is the fact that any of these four injuries are theoretically possible when a crane in present.
What Injuries Are Commonly Suffered in Crane Collapses and Accidents?
Serious crane-related injuries include head injuries, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, neck & back injuries, fractures and broken bones, amputation, paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, electric shock, and death. Many of these accidents and injuries are preventable and are caused by operator error, improper crane maintenance, overloading, lack of training and certification for operating a crane, failure to warn of potential hazards, design and manufacturing defects, metallurgical failures, and lack of oversight and supervision. Many safety features and regulations have been proposed by various construction groups, but the fact remains that the crane industry is not widely regulated. The Department of Labor reported that crane usage is one of the most heavily cited construction activities with numerous safety violations occurring every day, creating a dangerous work environment.
Our Crane Accidents Attorneys Are Experienced In Handling Injury Cases
If you or someone you love has been catastrophically injured or wrongfully killed as a result of a crane accident, there are several different parties who may be at fault: crane operators, construction companies, site owners, engineers, or crane manufacturers.
For over three decades, the experienced Pennsylvania catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm have fought hard to hold these parties responsible for the serious injuries and wrongful deaths their negligence and carelessness has caused. We have won awarded hundreds of millions to compensate crane accident victims and their families for their injuries, pain, suffering, lost wages, and mental anguish. Our team of product liability and premises liability experts has set the bar for holding manufacturers responsible when their recklessness ends in catastrophic injury and death. Contact one of our Philadelphia construction accident lawyers for a private, no-fee consultation – (215) 246-9000.