Cranes are a commanding presence at construction sites. Primarily used to lift heavy materials, cranes are essential to building modern skyscrapers, and we see more cranes in Syracuse than in years past. To the surprise of no one, these heavy pieces of equipment can cause devastating injuries in an accident.
Crane collapses are not unheard of in Syracuse. In 2021, a crane collapsed near the SUNY Upstate Health and Wellness Center. Fortunately, the crane fell back into the construction site, and no one was hurt. However, other crane accidents have proven deadly.
If you were injured in a crane accident, please call Powers & Santola, LLP, to discuss your case. A Syracuse construction accident attorney can help you understand your rights to compensation for bodily injuries.
Labor Regulations for Cranes in New York
The New York Department of Labor recognizes the dangers involved with cranes. As a result, the Department has created detailed regulations for all types of cranes used, such as mobile cranes and tower cranes. Workers must receive proper training on how to operate or work around a crane to reduce the risk of injuries.
Some regulations apply directly to the crane and establish requirements for:
- Crane stability
- Crane loading and load handling
- Hoist braking
- Weather protection
- Routine inspections
- Operation around power lines
These regulations, if followed, should reduce the number of serious injuries involved with cranes. Any accident could endanger construction workers, members of the public, and nearby buildings.
Common Crane Accidents
Despite New York’s regulations, accidents continue to occur. Some of the most common crane accidents include:
- Dropped loads. The heavy material being lifted instead falls to the ground and can crush or injure anyone in the way.
- Crane collapse. The boom can fall on the construction site or nearby sidewalks and roads.
- Contact with power lines. A crane operator could suffer electrocution in this type of accident, and other problems could result, like dropped loads.
- Struck-by accidents. The crane operator could lift loads in such a way that they swing and strike other workers.
- Overturned crane. The crane could fall on its side due to poor stability.
- Worker falls. An operator or other person could fall out of the crane while in use and suffer injuries.
Determining Fault for the Crane Accident
After an accident, a natural question is, “Why did that happen?” This question is critical for assigning fault for the accident.
In many situations, operator error is to blame. The operator could have been careless, distracted, or impaired and made a critical mistake which leads to an accident. Crane operators can be especially careless when working around live wires.
The construction workers responsible for loading the crane could also have made a mistake. They might not have tied down the material properly, so the load shifts as it is lifted.
Sometimes, the crane operator could have received insufficient training. Consequently, the contractor is more at fault than the operator, who didn’t know any better.
In other cases, defective component parts could lead to dropped loads, overturned cranes, or boom collapse. These defects could be the result of shoddy inspections and repairs, or the defect could have existed when the crane rolled off the manufacturer’s assembly line. Defects in design or manufacture can render a crane dangerous even when an operator is using the utmost care.
Other at-fault parties include:
- Project owners
- Project management companies
- Crane manufacturers
- Crane inspection firms
Crane Accident Injuries
Every crane accident is unique. Still, we tend to see some common injuries:
- Electrocution injuries. If the crane contacts a live wire, then anyone in the crane could suffer electrocution, which might cause burns, internal organ injuries, blindness, and brain injury. Electrocution can also lead to death
- Crush injuries. Heavy materials that land on a person can cause crush injuries if they are not immediately removed. Crush injuries damage skeletal muscle, which often results in the release of toxins. Sometimes, an amputation is the only way to survive a crush injury.
- Fractures. A worker who falls off a crane could break cervical bones, ribs, vertebrae, and other bones.
- Head injuries. Serious head injuries result from falls, electrocution, and struck-by accidents. A traumatic brain injury could knock someone unconscious, but it also might cause bleeding in the brain, which is fatal if not treated promptly.
We strongly recommend that anyone involved in a crane accident quickly go to the hospital. It is very difficult to assess the full severity of internal injuries, especially from electrocution. Yet prompt treatment is often necessary to prevent fatalities.
Compensation for Victims of Crane Accidents
Possible compensation will depend on who is hurt and the nature of what happened. A bystander, for example, can sue anyone responsible for the accident, including a contractor, job site owner, crane manufacturer, or other party. You should seek full compensation for economic losses like medical bills and lost income, as well as money for pain, suffering, and disability.
Construction workers might qualify for workers’ compensation, which pays no-fault benefits to anyone hurt while working. Most construction workers get their medical bills paid by their employer’s insurer. You can also seek wage loss benefits if your injuries keep you from returning to work, which is common after crane accidents.
Construction workers might also be able to sue their employer or the job owner, depending on the facts. New York’s Labor Law often comes into play, especially when a worker falls off the crane or the crane collapses. An employer could also be liable if they failed to follow a regulation regarding crane safety.
We Can Help Anyone Hurt in a Crane Accident
Crane accidents are some of the most serious that occur on a construction site. Although rare, they can injure or kill dozens of people in a single accident, including members of the public caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Please call Powers & Santola today to speak with our Syracuse construction accident lawyer about workers’ compensation or filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Our consultations are free.