The crane accident that killed 4 people at a Google office project in Seattle and the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel project that resulted in 3 deaths were among the most horrendous construction accidents that occur last year in the US. While these major tragedies were all over the news, crane accidents and partial building collapses occurred all over the country last year. A partial collapse of a building in Cinicinnati, a crane collapse in Dallas. Most big cities in the US had similar tragedies including New York. Last August one man died and five were injured in a building collapse (see previous blog). A crane company was temporarily banned from the city after two consecutive crane accidents including one resulting in the death of a construction worker (see previous blog).
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 175 people are injured in crane accidents and 44 die on average every year in the US
Most crane accidents are caused by human errors. Many of them such as the one that occurred at the Google site in Seattle or the one that killed a worker in New York occur during the assembling or the disassembling of the crane. The assembly/dissassembly director is in charge of making sure that the manufacturer guidelines and all safety procedures are followed during this dangerous operation. While OSHA introduced new regulations last April, these regulations are mostly related to improving crane operator’s knowledge and training.
The collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans is a horrible picture of how wrong things can go when profit is put ahead of safety. Corrupt inspectors, unqualified workers, unapproved material usage are among the many causes of the deadly collapse.
In the case of the collapse that occurred in the Bronx, NYC, investigators found that the collapse occurred because regulations and requirements related to steel framing were not followed. Following the accident the DOT circulated a service notice to remind contractors to avoid overloading and improper installations of cold-formed steel.
While the construction industry is by nature a dangerous industry, most injuries and deaths related to construction accidents are the result of negligence or human errors that could have been prevented.