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Articles Posted in Crane Safety

Dozens of construction workers are injured in crane accidents annually in the United States. Injuries and fatalities occur among the men and women operating the cranes as well as to workers and others on the ground. Crane accidents and collapses are one of the deadliest types of construction accidents, accounting for about 40 deaths every year. Read on for more information about common causes of crane accidents and how to prevent them.

Common Crane Accident Causes

Crane accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, including user error and equipment defects. But the most common causes include:

  • Cranes coming into contact with power lines: Nearly 39 percent of all crane accidents are caused when the crane comes into contact with overhead power lines. If any part of the crane, including the boom or cables, makes contact with a live power line, the crane operator and any nearby workers can be electrocuted.
  • Assembly and disassembly accidents: If assembly and / or disassembly is not performed according to the manufacturer’s specifications, it can result in catastrophic crane accidents. A MA work injury attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you have been injured in a crane accident.
  • Crane boom collapses: When the crane boom is extended too far, the crane’s ability to carry loads can be negatively impacted. This uneven distribution of weight can cause structural problems, which can result in the boom buckling or collapsing. This type of accident accounts for approximately eight percent of all crane accidents, and usually leads to serious injuries or death.
  • Tipping over: When the crane is overloaded beyond its capacity, it can tip over or collapse. Tip overs may also occur if the ground beneath the crane is uneven or unstable.

How to Prevent Crane Accidents

Crane accidents result in serious injuries and fatalities every year. If you are concerned that your employer is not following proper safety guidelines for crane operation and maintenance, you may contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and request a safety inspection. If you have been injured in a crane accident, it is in your best interest to consult with a skilled MA work injury lawyer immediately.

OSHA’s guidelines for preventing crane accidents include:

  • An inspector should check the crane for mechanical problems before each use.
  • Cranes should be inspected regularly to identify cracks, wiring problems, and worn or damaged parts.
  • A qualified person must perform any necessary repairs or modifications.
  • The crane should be placed on stable and flat ground and must be at least 10-feet from electrical cables.
  • The crane must not carry a load that exceeds its capacity.
  • Fences should be installed around the site to keep non-workers from getting too close to the crane.
  • A qualified “signal” person should assist the operator when maneuvering loads.
  • Workers should be equipped with fall protecting equipment.
  • The crane’s foundation and all structural supports should be designed by a professional engineer or the crane’s manufacturer.
  • Always use caution with wind. According to OSHA studies, wind is one of the top causes of crane accidents.

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When we are fatigued, even the most routine task can become challenging. But when the task at hand involves heavy machinery, high places, dangerous substances, or getting behind the wheel, fatigue can be deadly. When Massachusetts workers are fatigued they are less productive and prone to making more errors. So it stands to reason that employers wouldn’t want workers to be fatigued. Despite this logic, it’s not uncommon for employers to overwork employees; meeting deadlines and filling orders often take priority. But these short-sighted plans can create dangerous workplace conditions and can be costly for employers.

According to reports, employers lose about $136 billion annually to worker fatigue-related issues. In addition to lost productivity, fatigued workers can quadruple an employer’s workers’ compensation costs due to a higher frequency of accidents and subsequent injuries. Fatigued workers can hurt themselves, but they also put their co-workers at risk. If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, contact a Boston work injury lawyer today.

Reducing Worker Fatigue

Employers can take steps to reduce worker fatigue, thus improving productivity, and reducing liability and associated costs. To do this they should:

  • Discuss shift schedules with workers and take worker considerations into account.
  • Meet the physiological and sociological criteria of individual workers.
  • Test out different shift rotations for each worker to determine what works best.

Worker fatigue is not a minor concern. It is an issue that puts workers at risk on a daily basis and costs employers millions of dollars annually. If you feel that your workplace conditions are unsafe, report the conditions to a supervisor. If your supervisor does not respond to your concerns, you can contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and contact a MA work injury lawyer today.

Signs and Symptoms of Fatigue

Although employers can take steps to prevent worker fatigue, some problems are rooted outside of the workplace. Insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy can all disturb healthy sleep patterns and result in fatigue at work. Excessive alcohol use, some prescription and over the counter medications, and obesity are also contributing factors. The following signs are good indicators that a worker may be fatigued:

  • General tiredness or sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Digestive problems
  • Chronic illness

When are Workers Sleepiest?

According to Alberta Human Resources and Employment, most fatigue-related work accidents occur during third shift hours, between midnight and six a.m. That’s no big surprise. But the one to three p.m. nap time came in at a close second. Fatigue reduces decision making abilities, communication skills, productivity and performance, attention and concentration, memory, reaction time, and a worker’s ability to handle stress. Being excessively tired on the job can also increase a tendency for risk taking, and can result in increased sick time, employee turnover, and overall medical costs. Bottom line – workplace fatigue is expensive. Continue reading

LTL freight company, Central Transport, has committed to work on improving their company-wide safety protocols, and to specifically address safety concerns regarding outdated and unsafe forklifts and industrial trucks at over 100 of their terminals in 26 states across the nation.  The commitment to safety changes came after extensive investigations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed many citations and violations of safety standards, totaling $165,400 in total penalties, which Central Transport must pay as part of the agreement. These violations could have caused, and may still cause, crushing or struck-by injuries at these locations.

Central Transport must remove damaged, defective and unsafe forklifts from all of their locations and implement a comprehensive and detailed timetable and a step-by-step list on how they will address safety concerns moving forward.  These steps must be verified by an internal monitor to ensure that the implementation is going according to the agreement. This monitor will make at least 20 checks on terminals across their service area. In addition to an internal monitor, a third party monitor will also made unannounced checks on their terminals and conduct interviews with employees to see if the changes are being implemented.

The violations were noted at Central Transport terminals in 26 states, including the Billerica terminal in Massachusetts. It is now up to each of these states to honor and enforce this settlement agreement to help ensure the safety of its workers.

Proper safety regulations are non-negotiable

Industrial jobs, such as working in a loading dock for a freight company like Central Transport, carry inherent risks for the employees. Any profession that involves heavy machinery, large trucks and massive payloads may pose obvious dangers that could lead to permanent injuries or death.  It is for this reason that all companies that employ workers in potentially-dangerous fields should take the utmost care to ensure that they are doing everything possible to prevent avoidable accidents that can lead to the irreversible harm or death of their employees. OSHA exists to hold companies accountable for this responsibility, and this recent agreement shows why OSHA is important.

Were it not for OSHA investigating and revealing unsafe working conditions, how long would Central Transport have pushed their luck using outdated and hazardous forklifts? Would change only have happened after somebody was hurt, or worse? Now that they have been cited and given the order to update their safety protocols, it will hopefully result in an overall safer work environment for their employees. Continue reading

Construction sites are dangerous places, there’s no doubt about that. And crane accidents are among the deadliest types of construction-related accidents. In fact, earlier this month, a worker died in a crane accident in Longwood Medical area of Boston.  Improved technology has positively impacted productivity, but safety issues remain for workers on and around cranes. The information below will help you identify the leading causes of crane accidents and how to avoid them.

How Do Crane Accidents Occur?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the leading causes of crane accidents. They include:

  • Coming into contact with power lines
  • Cranes overturning
  • Falls from high places
  • Mechanical failures

In addition to deadly crane accidents, there are countless minor crane accidents that result in lost wages and productivity, an increase in insurance costs, OSHA fines, and more. In fact, a 1997 OSHA study concluded that most crane accidents are non-fatal. It is likely that most of these minor accidents are never even reported. Contact a Massachusetts Work Injury Lawyer if you’ve suffered an on-the-job injury.

Tips for Preventing Crane Accidents

If you work on or around cranes in Massachusetts, the following tips will dramatically reduce your risk of being seriously harmed or killed in a crane accident.

  • Assess: Assess for the potential of a crane accident and ensure that hazards are identified and remedied. This includes making sure the soil is properly prepared and that the crane is not in close proximity to power lines or underground pipelines.
  • Establish: Each crane should have its own safety plan and a person should be assigned to ensure the safety plan is adhered to. In doing so, he or she must ensure that equipment is well-maintained and routinely inspected.
  • Assign: A competent person should be assigned to oversee all crane operations.
  • Train: It’s not enough to only train workers who spend significant time on or around cranes. Any personnel working near a crane for any amount of time, even if only repairing or assembling the crane, should be properly trained in lifting operations.

Following the above advice doesn’t eliminate the risk of working on or near cranes, but it significantly reduces that risk. In Boston and the surrounding areas, it’s hard to turn the corner without seeing a construction site. Employers should ensure the safety of their crew by providing proper safety gear and adequate training, and by keeping equipment in good working order. Continue reading

A crane collapsed yesterday along the Medford-Everett line, injuring the operator of the piece of machinery.  The accident occurred next to the Revere Beach Parkway were the Woods Memorial Bridge Project is currently underway.  Workers were cleaning up for the day when the crane become unbalanced and completely flipped over.  At the time, the crane was carrying 200 gallons of diesel fuel at the time, which began leaking.  Environmental groups were called to help clean up the fuel.  The operator suffered minor injuries, a broken arm and wrist, after he was trapped inside the crane when it fell.  Some of his coworkers used a torch to get him out before first responders arrived.  The operator works for Coastal Marine and was taken to Mass General Hospital but is expected to be OK.  Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are back investigating the incident today.  This is a relatively lucky case compared to dozens of other crashes in which many have died.

Worksite crane accidents can occur easily if the proper safety precautions are not taken.  Cranes are vital to the manufacturing and construction industries as they lift and transport heavy materials that could otherwise not be moved.   If the machinery is properly installed and maintained, cranes can move materials quite safely and efficiently.  However, if operation and safety procedures are not followed when using cranes and other large machinery, the lives of workers and bystanders can be put at great risk.

There are three main hazards that construction workers and crane operators need to be vigilant of when working near cranes.  The first are electrical hazards.  OSHA reports that nearly 50 percent of overhead crane accidents result from the machines touching a power source during operation.  Power line contact, when a metal section of a crane inadvertently contacts a high-voltage power line, typically occurs when the crane is moving materials under or nearby a power line.  Every year, almost 200 people die from power line contact with about 600 being seriously injured.  Often, the victims are individuals who are guiding the load, but everyone present at a work site is also vulnerable to such risks.  Planning is the most important preventative measure to take.  It is especially important to appoint someone to be in charge of safety planning at worksites and to follow OSHA and ANSI guidelines about distance restrictions from power lines.  A second major hazard is overloading.  OSHA reports “80 percent of all crane upsets and structural failures can be attributed to exceeding the crane’s operational capacity.”  Overloading most often causes loads to drop or swing inadvertently and oftentimes occurs when under qualified personnel are allowed to operate cranes.  It is essential all workers who operate cranes on sites are properly trained and utilize load-measuring systems rather than relying on instinct and experience to determine if a crane can handle a load.  The third and final major hazard is the case of materials falling.  Aside from materials falling from overloading, loads can also fall if they are improperly secured.  Statistics show that almost 20 people died in 2012 from accidents involving overhead hoists.  These loads are often heavy and cause serious damage and injury if dropped.  To reduce the risk of falling materials, it is crucial to perform regular maintenance checks and to make sure all loads are completely secured.  Generally, all workers who interact with or around cranes and other heavy-duty machinery should be aware of safety procedures and be sure to follow regulations by OSHA and the manufacturers of the machinery.

 

Cranes are often used on construction and industrial sites to lift and move heavy objects.  They are often essential as they are one, if not the only, tool used to move objects that weigh thousands of pounds.  There are more than 125,000 cranes in use in the construction industry, as well as an additional 100,000 more used in general and maritime industries.  These cranes are operated by more than 250,000 workers.  Although invaluable, cranes can be extremely dangerous if not operated using the correct safety precautions.  The size of the crane itself, as well as the size of the materials it moves, can fatally injure workers and bystanders if the crane or the materials were to fall.  The most recent data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on crane accidents is from 2006.  There were 72 reported fatalities caused by crane accidents that year.  Over the decade prior to that from 1997 to 2006, there were 818 total workplace deaths as a result of crane accidents.  These fatal accidents were most commonly caused by objects falling from the cranes that then hit a worker or bystander.  Some other causes also include being run over by a crane, falling from a crane, and electrocution.

In numbers, 62 percent of deaths were caused by contact with object or equipment, 20 percent were due to falls, 10 percent were due to transportation incidents, and 8 percent were a result of contact with an electrical current.  Objects do not just fall from cranes without reason, however.  The most common causes of these accidents are use of crane for purposes outside of the manufacturer’s specifications, improper crane selection, poor weather, improper crane set up, and falling debris or other hazardous conditions surrounding the crane.  By following proper safety protocol, most crane accidents can be prevented.  It was found that 90 percent of crane accidents are caused by human error and 80 percent can be attributed to crane operators exceeding operational capacity.  That is why it is of the utmost importance that those operating such machinery be sufficiently trained and aware of the dangers of using cranes improperly.   The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) has estimated that up to 90 percent of crane operators do not have certification.  Therefore, it has recently revamped its safety regulations in order to reduce crane accidents. Continue reading

If you live in Boston – or any city – construction cranes are a common sight. Unfortunately, crane collapses are also relatively common. According to the United States Department of Labor, there are approximately 90 crane-related fatalities in the US every year. The most recent occurred in February in Lower Manhattan, when a 565-foot crane collapsed, killing a man who was sitting in his parked car. In many of these accidents, high winds, inadequate training, or improperly erected cranes are a factor. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.

OSHA’s 12-Point Safety Checklist for Crane Use

In addition to collapses related to high winds, crane fatalities can also occur when the crane’s boom comes in contact with power lines, when the crane is improperly assembled or disassembled, or when workers are struck by the boom or load. OSHA has created a 12-point safety checklist for construction workers who will be working on or around cranes.

  1. Only qualified and highly-trained employees should operate a crane.
  2. The crane must be inspected by a designated person prior to each use.
  3. The crane must always be placed on a stable, level surface.
  4. Pins should never be unlocked or removed during assembly and disassembly unless the sections are secure and blocked.
  5. The outriggers and barricade accessible areas must be completely extended if they are inside the swing radius of the crane.
  6. Always keep at least 10 feet of clearance between the crane and any electric power lines.
  7. Conduct a thorough inspection of rigging prior to use.
  8. Use the correct load chart based on the current configuration, load weight, and lift path of the crane.
  9. When making lifts, avoid exceeding the load chart capacity.
  10. Before delivering a load, raise it a few inches, hold, verify, and run tests of the entire brake system.
  11. Avoid moving loads over workers at all times.
  12. Follow instructions given by the manufacturer, and all signals.

Crane safety boils down to these three essentials; safe conditions, well-maintained equipment, and proper training. Unfortunately, site conditions that appear safe can actually be riddled with hidden dangers, such as unstable ground and power lines. According to Tom Barth, owner of Barth Crane Inspections of South Carolina, “Site conditions cannot be assumed. They must be verified by an engineer. However, it is the crane operator’s responsibility to ask the site superintendent about any hazards such as utilities, fresh un-compacted fill and more. They may not be recognizable to the eye but could pose a threat of ground failure.” Continue reading

In August of 2015, a Massachusetts worker was killed when an aerial lift he was operating tipped over. Kevin Miranda was operating the lift when it tipped, ejecting him from the operator’s basket and throwing him 16 feet through the air. Following the accident, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an investigation of Miranda’s employer, Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp. of Taunton. Just this month, the administration determined that his death could have been prevented if Skyline had adhered to federal and industry safety standards. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.

At the time of the accident, the aerial lift’s boom was extended to a height of 45 feet. OSHA inspectors noted several safety violations, including that the lift was placed on uneven ground and the lanyard on Miranda’s fall protection system was not attached to the lift. OSHA also concluded that Skyline had failed to train Miranda to recognize such a hazard, an important requirement of the agency’s standards.  As such, Skyline was cited for one serious violation and two willful violations, totaling $102,900. The company must comply with the penalties and citations and meet with OSHA’s area director within 15 days from the receipt of the citations, or contest the findings within that time frame.

“This incident and the needless death that resulted were preventable. Kevin Miranda’s employer was well aware of the necessary safety requirements, yet disregarded them,” said OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, Kenneth Shedden. “Safety standards exist for a good reason: to prevent incidents such as this, and the deaths and injuries that can result. Employers must know and adhere to all applicable standards. The lives and well-being of their employees depend on it.”

Falls Are Number One Cause of Construction-Related Fatalities

According to OSHA, falls are the top cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Fatal falls are often the result of unstable working surfaces, and / or failure to use appropriate fall protection equipment. Both were factors in Miranda’s death. If the lift had been placed on stable ground and Miranda’s fall protection system had been properly attached to the operator’s basket or boom, he might still be alive today. Continue reading

High winds are to blame for a deadly crane collapse in New York City Friday morning. According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, workers were attempting to secure the crane at the time of the incident. Shortly before 8:30 am, the massive piece of construction equipment collapsed, crashing into several parked cars and slamming into buildings before landing on Worth Street. The 565-foot crane stretched two blocks from Hudson to Church Street, a usually bustling area of Lower Manhattan. The collapse left one person dead and three people injured. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Police identified the fatally-wounded victim as 38-year-old David Wichs of the Upper West SIde. Wichs was in a parked car when the crane collapsed on top of it. There were also three injuries as a result of the accident; two serious and one minor. A 73-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman were both taken to area hospitals with head wounds from falling debris. Their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.

It’s a Miracle That More People Were Not Harmed

Considering that the accident occurred during the normally busy morning commute, it is incredible that more people were not seriously injured. Mayor de Blasio attributes this good fortune to the efforts of workers on the ground who were keeping people away from the area while other workers were securing the crane. “This is a very, very sad incident — we’ve lost a life,” said Mr. de Blasio, adding that, “It was something of a miracle there wasn’t more impact.”

The crane had just been inspected by the city’s Buildings Department on Thursday. The inspection was conducted as part of the process to approve an extension of its current length.  According to Mr. de Blasio, when winds reached 20 miles per hour on Friday morning, crews began to clear the streets and secure the machinery. The crawler crane, which was being used to replace air-conditioning units on top of the former Western Union building, is supposed to be secured in winds of 25 mph or above. In response to the accident, the city has ordered the securing of an additional 376 crawler cranes and 43 tower cranes.

Following the collapse, emergency responders searched cars for people who could be trapped and gas lines for leaks. Several nearby leaks were identified, however, the levels do not appear to be dangerous. As a precaution, gas in the immediate area has been turned off and the situation is being closely monitored. Continue reading

The US Department of Labor and Mass Bay Electrical Corporation have reached a settlement agreement in a case involving the deaths of two Mass Bay employees in 2014. John Loughran and Joseph Boyd III were working on a platform that was raised on a crane when the crane toppled, killing both men. The MA electrical contractor was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for multiple violations, including improper employee training. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.

Beyond compensating the victims’ families for their losses, the settlement seeks to prevent future injuries and fatalities by implementing corrective action and setting up a training fund in memory of the victims. In addition to improper employee training, OSHA also cited Mass Bay for failing to adhere to the crane manufacturer’s safety procedures. “The deaths of Joseph Boyd III and John Loughran should never have occurred. Effective and ongoing training of employees and adherence to the clear safety requirements set forth by the equipment’s manufacturer are critical in preventing fatalities like these from happening again. This settlement requires Mass Bay Electrical Corp. to take stringent, detailed, continual and effective corrective action,” said the New England Regional administrator for OSHA, Kim Stille.

Settlement Establishes Scholarship Fund in Victims’ Names

The settlement provides court-enforced rules that Mass Bay must follow and establishes a scholarship fund for employee training. Both of these unique stipulations aim to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future. Mass Bay is required to provide at least $3,000 in contributions to the scholarship fund, which will be set up in both victims’ names, every year for the next 10 years and $5,000 per year in the following decade. As both men were members of the Local 104 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the fund will be administered with the IBEW’s cooperation.

Mass Bay Must Provide Extensive Training Programs to Employees

As part of the settlement, Mass Bay is also required to provide thorough training and certification programs to its employees, undergo regular safety audits, establish an in-house safety committee, and notify OSHA about any work utility projects. Due to Mass Bay’s failure to comply with regulations set forth by OSHA and the crane’s manufacturer, the electrical contractor will pay OSHA a penalty of $136,000. Continue reading

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