A crane accident in another state, which attracted widespread media attention, left 1 person dead and left 5 other people injured. Among those hurt, authorities described 2 of the injuries as serious and 2 more of them as critical.
The crane apparently collapsed in high winds as thunderstorms went through the city. Unable to stand upright in the wind, the crane tumbled down on to the top of a nearby apartment complex. At least one of the victims, the one who died, was not a worker.
However, the incident still underscores the risk that crane accidents impose on construction workers. In fact, in the same state where this most recent accident happened, and since 2012, 8 construction workers have also died in other, unrelated construction workers’ accidents involving cranes.
The problem has attracted the attention of safety regulators. In the region where this accident happened, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has started conducting more frequent safety inspections of cranes.
The stepped-up enforcement has led to a slew of citations against various construction companies, although some argue that the associated fines are not high enough to get the attention of employers.
Indeed, to some extent, high winds are not entirely within the control of anyone. They can come on unexpectedly, and so it is no surprise that they are responsible for over 20% of deadly crane accidents.
Still, this most recent tragedy should be a wakeup call to employers in New York who expect their workers to operate in and around cranes. It is ultimately these employers’ obligation to make sure this equipment is safe and that it is handled properly, even if that means work has to slow down during times where gusty winds are anticipated.