Safe operation of cranes is not only essential for operators and users, but for all workers on site.
Cranes are among the most important and expensive pieces of equipment on a job site, which are good reasons to exercise extreme caution. But perhaps the most important reason is they can be extremely dangerous.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports there are:
- 250,000 crane operators
- 125,000 cranes in operation
- 100,000 additional cranes in maritime and general industries
- An average of 78 crane-related fatalities annually in the U.S.
Actual numbers are probably much higher because some accidents are not reported and others are misclassified. Florida has the second-highest number of crane-related deaths in the country.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our experienced crane injury lawyers know these devastating crane accidents often leave workers unable to return to their jobs. Those who survive often struggle with a lifetime of disability, while their families grapple with the enormous financial hardship.
OSHA reports crane accidents and falls are among the top causes of construction worker injuries – and construction workers have one of the highest work-injury rates of any other profession. Plus, because crane work often happens in urban areas, it’s not just construction workers who are at-risk. Innocent members of the general public face potential injury as well.
Some of the main reasons OSHA identified for crane mishaps:
- Boom or crane contact with energized power lines
- Under the hook lifting device
- Overturned cranes
- Dropped loads
- Boom collapse
- Crushing by the counter weight
- Outrigger use
- Rigging failures
Injury or death by crane accident is often the result of:
- Electrocution or electric shock
- Being run over by a crane
- Colliding with a crane
- Compression injuries
- Being struck by objects that fall from the crane
- Being struck by a falling crane or crane collapse
Workers are at heightened risk when construction companies:
- Fail to use the correct crane for the job
- Fail to properly set up the crane
- Allow crane operation by an untrained worker
- Fail to provide a necessary spotter
- Ignore inclement weather concerns with crane operation
- Fail to address unsafe debris or other conditions around the crane
In addition to industry standards and federal regulation, Florida has its own regulation of crane use and licensing. F.S. 489.113 became law in 2012. Before that, there was a patchwork of standards that varied from county-to-county, born of sporadic attempts to enact local safety measures where the state failed.
Now, this state measure pre-empts all local regulation and brings crane use and operation in line with OSHA regulations. Among these regulations:
- Clearance from above-ground power-lines
- Site plan development for crane location
- Proper securing of cranes during high-winds
- Storage and retraction of hydraulic crane booms not in use
- Proper inspection of tower cranes
Crane certification can take years, and it’s the responsibility of employers to fund this certification and to make sure crane operators have the proper education.Options for Compensation
Those who suffer injury or survivors of those killed have a few options as far as compensation. If the victim was not part of the work crew, he or she may file a claim for damages. If necessary, the victim can file a lawsuit against negligent parties who failed to take imperative safety precautions. An experienced injury lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to identify all potential defendants. Accident reconstruction, consultation with expert witnesses and analysis of medical records and financial documents will be part of that process.
If the victim was a worker on the site, recovery is a bit more complicated. First of all, we will want to identify whether the worker was an employee or an independent contractor. Not all workers classified as independent contractors actually are; many companies misclassify in order to avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance. If there is a dispute, that can be challenged in court.
Independent contractors are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, they do have the right to take action against negligent parties with a civil lawsuit.
Employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and they will not have to prove negligence to collect. They only need to show the injury arose out of work and occurred in the course and scope of employment.
However, workers’ compensation will only cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Workers can also pursue third-party litigation against others responsible parties – aside from the employer.
No matter your situation, our legal team can help.
Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (888) 267-2728 or locally at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.