On a jobsite, it takes one mistake, one distraction or one unlucky moment to cause a problem. When dealing with a piece of large equipment like a crane, that problem can result in a catastrophe.
In a world-wide report, almost half of tower crane accidents (42%) were a result of an erection, dismantling or climbing error; 27 percent were during operation; 13 percent from operator error; and ten percent based on mother nature (Tower Crane Support).
In the same study, it was found that most error occurred when the manufacturer’s instructions were failed to be followed. The next cause of error was due to foundation and structural failures, or electrical and mechanical malfunctions.
When a crane collapses, surrounding occupants are at risk — ground workers, operators and other jobsite personnel. Things get more complicated when jobsites are in public areas, such as cities. A crane collapse could mean the injury or death to an uninvolved civilian.
According to the study, most errors can be prohibited with certain necessary safety precautions — an initiative that has multiple proponents in the industry. It is important to recognize that safety is in the hands of the workers and construction business owners to ensure that construction collapses do not occur through protocol and safety precautions.
Recent crane collapse could impact society
Earlier last month, on June 3, a crane collapsed in Taiwan leading to the injury of one, while trapping two engineers in its grasp. The event occurred when a 86,679-gross-tonnage container ship struck a crane, causing it to crash and another crane to be badly damaged.
This maritime disaster, although avoided fatality, can possibly send ripples through society. Supply & Demand Chain Executive is currently keeping a close eye on the possible disruptions that could occur within the supply chain industry.
Crane Collapses in 2021:
- February 11; In New York City, a crane collapsed at a 31-story building, causing 60 firefighters to respond.
- March 17; A crane collapsed in Northwest Washington when a load dropped too quickly, causing the crane to tilt; producing one injury.
- April 7; A crane crashed into a power line causing an electrical explosion in Fort Lauderdale — sending a man into critical condition from the shock.
- April 21; A mobile crane collapsed on top of a production studio in Atlanta, Georgia during HVAC removal. Luckily the building was unoccupied during the time of the crane collapse.
- May 5; The Salesforce Tower construction site, located in Chicago, Illinois, witnessed a crane collapse while hoisting a section of metal stairs — injuring none.
Crane Collapses in 2020:
- February 6; A crane collapse causes I-275, in Pinellas County, Florida, to close overnight after a severe weather storm.
- February 28; Two cranes collapse after collision at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
- May 2; A crane collapse occured during an overload test at the Liebherr yard in Rostock, Germany — injuring two people.
- August 6; A crane came toppling down in Regent Park—Toronto Ontario— where a civilian barely escaped, running out from under the falling front JIB.
- September 16; After two cranes entangled on a jobsite located in Austin, Texas, 22 people were injured. Of those 22 people, 16 were transported to the hospital.
*Lists do not include all of the crane collapses during the years allotted. List included to showcase real life scenarios.
Avoiding crane collapses
There are a multitude of causes for crane collapses — many involving human misstep, some involving malfunctions and others involving environmental factors. However, in most cases, crane collapses can be avoided.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is constantly updating protocols based on best practices and essential safety precautions. Before even stepping onto a job-site, workers must be properly trained to check, operate and function around large equipment.
Having proper training, can mean the difference between life or death when it comes to a construction jobsite. However, it is the duty of those involved — workers, supervisors and construction companies — to ensure that those that are on the jobsite get to go home by the end of the day.
OSHA responds with heavy fines
In 2020, from January to Mid-October, OSHA issued 1,307 citations, according to the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators.
This information was presented by OSHA during the 5th Annual Industry Forum. These citations covered a range of violations, including inspection, signal person qualifications, power line safety, keeping clear of the load, operation and assembly and disassembly — among others.
These citations are meant to be a firm reminder that protocols must be implemented to ensure that crane collapses do not occur on the jobsite.
In this neck of the woods, a simple misstep could mean the end of a life.