Crane Accidents – Who is Responsible?

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In the last several years there has been an increase in the number of serious injuries and deaths that have resulted from crane accidents. These accidents have occurred due to tipping, collapses, overloading, falls, mechanical failures, operator errors, dropped loads from improper rigging, falling equipment, working in poor weather conditions such as high winds, lack of crane inspections, general negligence, electrocution from high voltage wire contact, injuries while setting up or taking down the crane, crane design defects, and lack of proper operator training.

Even though the number of crane accidents has increased as of late, they are still considered to be somewhat rare on most jobsites. When they do happen, however, very serious injuries and even death can result. Because cranes are designed to be heavy, carry large loads, and lift objects high into the air, when there is an accident (such as tip-over, collapse, dropped load, or other similar accident), the natural force of gravity increases the severity of the injuries.

Due to the high risk of crane operation, more employers have started to invest in better crane accident education programs. Putting a person with inadequate training behind the controls of a crane can put everyone within the danger zone of that piece of equipment in danger. One careless or reckless mistake can injure or kill a large number of people. Crane education programs are designed to teach operators how to properly set up the crane, the dangers involved with crane operation, and how to ensure proper rigging. Even with more education and specialized training, crane accidents will still happen and when they do, negligent parties must be held accountable.

There are many different types of cranes such as: construction cranes, mobile cranes, truck cranes, cherry pickers, man-lifts, bucket trucks, tower cranes, and railroad yard cranes. Because of the variety of cranes, many different types of crane accidents can occur. If you or someone you love has been injured in any way as a result of a crane accident, it is a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney. These professionals can help you sort out all of the details of your case, and typically work on a contingency basis, which means you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

In addition to traditional land cranes, as is commonly seen on construction sites, it is important to note there are many different industries that use cranes. One industry that regularly uses cranes and is seeing higher than normal numbers of crane accidents is the maritime cargo transportation industry.

These cranes can be easily spotted on the docks in major shipyards. Sometimes called cargo cranes, or vessel cranes, these pieces of equipment are just as dangerous as their land based cousins.

In response to the growing number of crane accidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established their Guidelines for Workplace Safety and Health Programs for the shipyard industry. These guidelines clearly state tips and information for working around and with cranes. The information can be found in OSHA handbooks under the “Hoisting and Hauling Equipment” section. Some of the regulations set forth in these guidelines include:

• Employees must not enter any area that is within the crane’s swing radius;
• All cranes and other types of derricks that are used on a regular basis on both vessels and dry docks must be routinely certified and tested by trained professional crane inspectors;
• All of the crane’s moving parts must be covered with guards.

OSHA is the sole party responsible for enforcing these regulations, and helping to protect the safety of all workers. They provide a number of documents that contain specific guidelines for a wide variety of cranes. These guidelines must be followed regardless of the type of crane or the crane’s location. A few examples of OSHA’s regulations include guidelines for: basic cranes and derricks, overhead cranes, gantry cranes, truck cranes, and crawler locomotive cranes.

Another reason cargo cranes are subject to a good deal more regulation and are more prone to crane accidents is due to their location. In most cases, these cranes endure many different weather conditions and are often left out in the open, exposed to the elements. Saltwater from the ocean takes a large toll on the equipment and can be extremely rough on the moving parts. Couple this with sand damage and cranes can easily become vulnerable. This is precisely why cranes need to be inspected and tested quite frequently in order to verify safety. OSHA provides many different documents that outline proper inspection processes.

Even with all of these safety measures firmly in place, thousands of people are injured while using cranes each year. While these pieces of equipment are necessary and quite handy, the fact of the matter is, they are also quite dangerous. Sometimes crane injuries are due to an employer’s negligence or leniency regarding frequent inspections. Other times the accident is a result of poor training or a careless error. No matter what caused the accident to occur, the results can be devastating.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a crane accident, you should not hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney. These attorneys are familiar with the legal process for assessing and handling these types of claims, and can help you through every step of your case. He or she will work hard for you, and your family, to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. A personal injury attorney will also be able to help you seek damages in the event the accident was caused due to someone else’s negligence. If you have lost a loved one due to a crane accident, an attorney will assist you in filing a wrongful death claim in an effort to help you recover at least a small part of your loss. Since the laws vary somewhat from country to country filing a crane accident lawsuit can be a complex process.

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