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Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Tagged with crane accident

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crane in New yorkOn April 26th, as part of the second National Stand-Down to prevent struck by accidents among construction workers, two free webinars will be offered by the NORA Construction Sector Council.

The first webinar will take place from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm and will focus on preventing struck by-accidents that occur around cranes and during lifting operations. According to statistics from the Center for Construction Research and Training, one crane accident occurs for every 10,000 hours of use. Crane collapsing or crane tipping are among the most common crane accidents. In these types of accidents, construction workers have a high risk to be crushed not only by the crane but also by the heavy material carried by the crane.  Most of the time these accidents occur because of human errors such as:

  • not using the manufacturer’s load charge for the crane
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Linemen have one of the most dangerous job in the construction industryDerrick workers in oil gas and mining, roofers, ironworkers, crane operators, construction helpers, landscaping supervisors, highway maintenance workers, cement masons, ground maintenance workers, maintenance workers and mining machine operators have some of the highest death rates among all workers. Out of the top 25 most dangerous jobs  in the US, 12 of them are related to the construction industry according to a recent study released by AdvisorSmith.

Derrick operators in the oil gas and mining industry whose job is to operate and maintain the derrick and drill equipment used to extract oil or gas have the third most dangerous activity of all American workers behind logging workers and aircraft pilots and flight engineers. The average yearly salary of a derrick operator is $51,390 and the average fatal injury rate is 46 per 100,000 workers.  20 of them died on the job  in 2018 according to the most recent data of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Roofers who average a $42,100 yearly salary come right behind them with a fatal injury rate of 41 per 100,000 workers. 96 of them died in roofing accidents in 2018.

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Hard-Rock-Hotel-construction-accident-e1582228604154The 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.

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OSHA logoTo better protect construction workers from dangerous crane accidents, OSHA recently released a final rule on crane operator certification requirements.  The new rule makes employers responsible for the training and evaluation of their crane operators. Employers are also responsible for documenting the successful completion of the evaluations. Crane operators need to be certified and licensed to work on a construction site and must receive ongoing training if they need to use new equipment.  While the previous 2010 rule on crane operators required operators to be certified on lifting capacity, the new rule indicates that operators can now be certified based on the crane’s type and capacity, or type only.

The final rule will become effective on December 9th 2018 however employers will have until February 7 2019 to comply with the evaluation and documentation requirements.

Read the OSHA press release 

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Crane in New YorkCrane accidents can have dramatic consequences and one way to prevent such accidents is to make sure crane operators are proprely trained and certified.  So far, operators of cranes and derricks have been receiving different levels of certification based on the rated operating capacity (ROC) of the machine they are operating. However  after multiple complaints from the construction industry  that the ROC was not a suitable indicator of a crane operator skills and experience, OSHA just released a new rule that removes the ROC-based certification requirements but instead put the responsibility of making sure that the crane operator is qualified in the hands of the employer. The proposed rule change “requires that every employer evaluate an employee first as an operator-in-training before permitting him or her to operate equipment without oversight.”

With this new rule, every newly hired crane operator would have to be proprely evaluated by his new employer before he is allowed to operate the crane. Therefore on their first days of work with a new employer, crane operators would be considered trainees and would be tested on their competency and skills.

Among others employers will have to make sure  newly hired crane operators know how to inspect the equipment, how to rig and to level the crane . Employers will have to test crane operators  on their judgement about wind speed and  other environmental factors.  They also will have to make sure that new crane operators know how to hoist loads of irregular size and weight, that they are familiar with personnel hoisting, that they can perform multiple crane lifts and that they are able to hoist blind picks. Additionally employers will have to test operators on their capacity of operating the crane in special conditions such as  tight space, near power lines or from a barge.

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crane in New yorkDespite multiple past crane accidents that have proven that crane operators needed to be trained and certified, OSHA one more time wants to delay the effective date of its new crane operator requirement. The original planned date was in 2014.  This extension follows President Trump’s directive that all federal agencies re-review pending regulations. At a time when the construction industry is booming the number of cranes in use is at his highest and so is the risk of accident. Continuing to delay this rule is putting construction workers and the public at higher risk of accidents especially in New York City which is one of the cities with the highest number of cranes in activity.

The City of  New York however didn’t wait for OSHA to strengthen crane rules. After 38 year old David Wichs was killed in a crane collapse in downtown Manhattan, the city requested a mandatory suspension of crane operations when wind gusts record 30 mph and above. A study was also commissioned and some of the recommendations included the requirement to use modern cranes with anemometers, black boxes and GPS. Our New York Crane Accident Lawyer Howard Hershenhorn represents the widow of David Wichs.

Picture: courtesy of Pixabay