Since their invention by the ancient Greeks, cranes have been intensely used on construction sites and for other material handling applications. These complex machines have become the workhorse of the construction industry and, at the same time, the cause of a significant number of workplace accidents. Their multitude of moving parts, malfunctioning issues, and improper use lead to almost a hundred deaths each year in the U.S. alone. In order to avoid crane accidents, employers are required to educate their employees on how to safely operate these dangerous machines.
At the O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm we try to raise awareness about the safety issues of working with cranes on construction sites.
Crane-load related accidents
Cases of workers struck by crane loads are not uncommon. This is, in fact, one of the main causes of crane accidents and the injuries are often fatal to the people involved.
Crane-load deaths can be the result of several problems, such as inadequate management of the machine or loosening of the crane load. Obstruction of vision might compromise the safety of the workers on the construction site, as well, since the operator would be unable to see the indications of the signalers. While cranes are of great necessity on a construction site, they can also be very dangerous.
The fact that, in more than 30% of the accidents, information on why the workers involved were struck by a crane load is not provided by employers proves that safety requirements are not always respected. Here are a few preventive measures to consider when working with cranes:
- Use communication devices such as telephones and radios in order to assist the operator of the crane, this way you avoid hazards caused by blind spots
- Install automatic alarms to warn the workers around of the crane’s load movement
- Isolate the area where the crane is used with barriers or guardrails
- Loads that seem unstable must not be moved until the issue is solved
- Crane operators have to be well-trained by their contractors, despite their qualifications
- Use rear view mirrors to increase the view of the crane operator on the moving area of the load
All workers should strictly follow these rules and employers need to make sure that their crane operators receive the necessary training in order to correctly operate the machine. Safety measures and possible accidents should be discussed, as well.
Crane collapses are another leading cause of construction site deaths. Cranes that are poorly installed and maintained can often lead to catastrophic accidents. This kind of hazards is also associated with overloading issues, when the load exceeds the maximum admitted weight of the crane, causing cables to fail and break. Here are some safety tips that can prevent crane accidents:
- Wear protective equipment in order to minimize eventual injuries
- Workers and crane operators should be equally trained on load measuring
- Visually examine the boom and jib of the crane for structural damage or oils that might cause slips and falls
- Never use loads beyond the crane’s capacity
- Install load measuring systems on the crane in order to prevent overloading
- Regularly inspect the machine for operating problems
These protective measures are meant to protect people working with cranes on construction sites or other industrial areas where their use is required. The O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm in Elk Grove strongly advises you to put your life’s safety first while on the job and respect these rules, since it will help avoiding work-related hazards and possibly encourage others to follow your example.