N.Y. Construction Crane Accident Fatality Underscores Workplace Dangers
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on April 19th, 2012
The death of a 30-year-old Burlington, N.J., construction worker earlier this month at a New York City worksite was a stark reminder of the real dangers that construction workers face every day on the job.
The man was killed when a construction crane being operated near him became dislodged from its base and crashed to the ground, according to a story by The Associated Press. Four other people were hurt at the accident scene, where a New York Subway line extension is being built on the No. 7 line, according to the story.
An investigation is continuing into why the crane broke apart, according to a follow-up story in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“The crane was set up on the second of three levels on the construction site on Manhattan’s West Side, city officials said,” according to the report. “The [Fire Department of New York] said the boom came apart in two pieces – one 80 feet long and the other 40 feet long.”
A similar accident occurred in the East Side of Manhattan in May of 2008 when another construction crane collapsed at a work site, killing the crane operator and a fellow worker. In that earlier incident, the owner of the crane is now on trial for manslaughter, the story reported.
Downtown Philadelphia was the setting for a fatal construction site accident in October, 2009, when a worker was killed after the construction lift he was standing on toppled over and crashed into an apartment building, according to a story from The Associated Press. The worker fell 125 feet to his death.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) published new rules to enhance construction crane and derrick safety in workplaces across the nation, replacing rules that had not been updated in almost 40 years. The rules apply to some 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification businesses that employ about 4.8 million workers, according to OSHA.
The new rules were “designed to prevent the leading causes of fatalities, including electrocution, crushed-by/struck-by hazards during assembly/disassembly, collapse and overturning,” according to OSHA.
Some 22 fatalities and 175 non-fatal injuries occur annually through construction crane accidents, OSHA reported.
Among the requirements of the updated rules for employers are:
- A careful inspection of tower crane parts before the equipment is used, along with an assessment of ground conditions; qualification or certification of crane operators; and reviews of procedures for working in the vicinity of power lines.
- Employers must comply with local and state operator licensing requirements.
- Employers must pay for certification or qualification of their currently uncertified or unqualified operators.
- Written certification tests may be administered in any language understood by the operator candidate.
- Operators of most types of cranes to be qualified or certified to use the equipment. Employers have up to 4 years to ensure that their operators are qualified or certified, unless they are operating in a state or city that has its own operator requirements.
The improved federal rules are great progress, but more safeguards are needed to prevent more accidents, serious injuries and deaths involving cranes and other construction equipment.
Construction work is a dangerous job, but it needn’t be one where workers have to be concerned each day that they’ll make it home in one piece. Construction companies and their supervisors must be sure to be vigilant about worker and workplace safety and ensure that corners are never cut when it comes to safety.
If you or someone you love is employed in the construction industry and is ever seriously injured in a worksite accident involving a construction crane or other equipment, be sure to consult with a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney to explore all of your legal rights.
A serious construction-related accident can be debilitating for the rest of your life, affecting your mobility, earning potential and your livelihood. That’s not something that you want to take lightly.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer are experienced in handling construction accident cases for our clients and we stand ready to assist you and consult with you about your case.
When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.