Crane accidents are common in the maritime, industrial and commercial fields. Cranes are necessary and useful equipment but can be dangerous if operated negligently.
OSHA estimates that 1 in 1,000 maritime crane operators will suffer fatal injuries from accidents related to their equipment. Many of these accidents could have been prevented with proper safety training and equipment maintenance.
Operator Error Accidents
Cranes come in all shapes and sizes, but all are capable of causing injuries if not used properly. Crane accidents can result from a number of different causes. Most often, these accidents are a result of either improper maintenance or from negligent operation.
One example of negligent operation is called two-blocking. Two-blocking occurs when the operator extends the boom on a crane without letting out sufficient slack in the cable. As a result, the stabilizing weight, called the headache ball, will be popped off by the extending boom. The headache ball can weigh as much as 150 lbs and will easily kill anyone standing below if it comes off due to a two-block. The two-block accident is an easily preventable accident. Competent crane operators should be trained to not make this mistake. Many more modern cranes have anti two-blocking devices that prevent this accident.
Other common causes include:
- Not setting outriggers
- Not using a spotter
- No tag lines
- Not using radios
- Driving too fast
Tip overs are commonly reported in work sites due to operator error.
Mechanical Error Accidents
Another primary cause of crane accidents is faulty maintenance. Cranes are prone to mechanical problems even when the utmost care is taken in their maintenance. When the equipment is neglected, the danger is multiplied.
The constant lifting and pulling of heavy loads will cause the crane’s components to wear down. If the components are not replaced, crane accidents will happen. Faulty maintenance can result in loads being dropped unexpectedly. This, of course, is incredibly dangerous to the workers below.
It is the responsibility of the employer or company that is operating the crane to ensure the crane is maintained properly. A regular maintenance schedule with routine checks are essential to prevent crane accidents from mechanical errors.
Common Injuries from Crane Accidents
Common injuries suffered by workers include:
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Crush injuries
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
- Full or partial paralysis
- Back injuries
- Wrongful death
Legal Help for Workers Injured in Crane Accidents
Seaman or longshore workers who are injured in crane accidents caused by negligence are entitled to lost wages, medical treatment, disability, emotional trauma and pain, and even punitive damages in certain circumstances. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a crane accident, contact the maritime injury attorneys at The Lambert Firm today for a free case evaluation.