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New York Crane Collapse Sheds Light on the Dangers Associated With Cranes

April 13, 2016 Workers' Compensation

On a recent snowy and windy day in New York City, construction workers were attempting to bring down a crane’s boom for safety reasons.  The construction crew was worried about 20 MPH winds and wanted to lower and secure the crane.  The crane had a 565-foot operating arm and was massive, capable of lifting 330 tons.  Tragically, as the crane was coming down, it toppled over in a horrific accident.

In its downward arc, it crushed a 38-year-old immigrant from Prague to death as he was on his way to work.  Another man nearby suffered a head wound in the incident, and two other bystanders were hit by falling debris and sustained injuries.

Unfortunately, this tragic crane accident was not the first in the New York City area and it will not be the last that occurs. Cranes can be very risky to operate, especially in confined spaces with lots of pedestrians and vehicles around that the crane could hit if something goes wrong.  When an accident happens, it is important to determine if a New York City workers’ compensation law firm can help with a work injury claim or if an injury attorney can file a civil lawsuit.

Crane Collapse Underscores Related Dangers

The crane that collapsed and caused the tragedy was a crawler crane and it was being operated by a 56-year-old crane operator who had a prior history of drunk driving arrests in the 1980s.  He tested negative for drugs and alcohol by law enforcement officers at the scene of the accident. Multiple city agencies were conducting investigations into how the incident occurred.  Just the prior Thursday before the collapse, city officials had come to supervise as the machine was extending its massive operating arm to lift items onto the roof of a building under construction.

Mayor de Blasio also ordered that all 376 crawler cranes that were operating in the five boroughs at the time to be secured for the duration of the wind and snow storm.  Each of these cranes, also in highly populous areas, also presented a significant danger.

The Center for Construction Research and Training has conducted studies into the risks of crane injuries, with research prompted by another tragic New York crane accident that caused the death of six construction workers and a bystander, as well as injured 24 construction workers. The research revealed that there were 323 deaths of construction workers involving 307 crane incidents between 1992 and 2006. This means that an average of 22 construction workers died each year because of crane problems.

Of course, as the recent tragic death shows, others besides construction workers can be hurt as well. When someone who is not employed by the construction company gets hurt or is killed, a civil lawsuit can be filed by the victim or family members to recover compensation.  Construction workers cannot file suit against employers, but they could potentially sue third parties to recover after a crane accident.  An attorney can help victims understand their rights. Call Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff today.