When we hear the word crane accident, we remember the dramatic ones that get a lot of media coverage. Consider what happened to young Gregory Echevarria in April 2019. He was on a crew installing a large crane at a Soho construction site when its 7.5 ton counter weight he was setting slipped, fell, and crushed him to death. Before this tragedy, the NYC Department of Buildings had received several safety complaints about this site. This tragedy illustrates that ANY construction worker can be killed by an accident involving a crane, even a mobile one.
The main causes of worker deaths involving cranes are electrocution, crane collapse, or being struck by a crane’s load. Many more fatalities involve construction laborers than crane operators or crew, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From 2011 to 2015, it says white, non-Hispanic workers accounted for 74 percent of fatal crane-related injuries, followed by 14 percent Hispanic.
Surveying and Preparing the Area
Since cranes take up a lot of space, safely preparing the area where a crane will be used is vital. The following are essential when preparing the area properly:
There must be plenty of clearance between the crane and any power line. The Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says 45 percent of all fatalities involving a
construction crane are caused by electrocution when the crane touches a power line.
Ground must be firm and level. Softer ground is ideal for a crawler crane. But mobile truck
cranes work best on hard, dry ground. OSHA has specific guidelines for safe area
preparation for crane installation.
Can the crane safely rotate 360 degrees?
Is there adequate space for the outriggers?
Installation and Use
Rigging a crane involves special precautions to keep it safe for all construction site workers. Riggers must be qualified to perform their work. These crane safety practices prevent accidents and injuries.
Avoid rigging above or near areas where other work is being performed.
Never exceed the crane’s maximum lifting capacity.
Use only hooks with self-closing latches.
Inspect straps and chains daily for defects
Examine all nylon straps each day for even the slightest fraying. Also eliminate any straps with knots as they reduce lifting capacity by up to half.
Never leave materials suspended on a crane for extended periods of time.