Crane accidents hurting more and more New York construction workers

An iconic image shown in the media coverage from Hurricane Sandy shows a collapsed construction crane dangling more than 70 stories in the air above Manhattan. Amazingly, that crane's catastrophic failure hasn't resulted in any casualties, nor did the recent collapse of a construction crane in the Hell's Kitchen area, but not all New York crane accidents have such a "happy ending."

The numbers

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that crane accidents kill an average of 70 construction workers and laborers around the country annually, and many more suffer serious injuries. Many people may not realize that cranes are such hazardous machines, though. There are several different ways in which a worker could be injured by a crane, including crane boom collapses (like the one that happened during Sandy), falling from the cab or support structure of tower cranes, and being crushed by dropped loads are just some of the ways in which injuries can occur.

The injuries

Just as the types of accidents caused by crane malfunctions, misuse or collapses is varied, so are the injuries coming from those accidents. Laborers involved in crane accidents face a wide range of serious injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Head trauma/traumatic brain injuries/concussions
  • Severe lacerations
  • Internal bleeding

Applicable laws

There are both state and federal laws designed to protect workers whose duties put them around dangerous heavy machinery. The federal law is propagated and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and is designed to ensure that employers, general contractors, project managers and/or landowners responsible for the safe operation of a work site have met minimum safety standards to protect their workers.

OSHA regulations also cover more specific aspects of crane installation and operation, including (but not limited to):

  • Minimum clearance between crane components and power sources
  • Safe access to the cab of the crane, be it by ladders, scaffolds, an elevator system or stairs
  • Lighting in and around the crane
  • Maintenance standards

New York state increases the federal crane safety mandates by requiring that crane operators be licensed after completing a minimum amount of hands-on training experience and pass both written and practical tests.

Regardless of required jobsite safety standards or crane operator skill, corners are sometimes cut, and crane accidents still happen with alarming frequency. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crane-related accident, speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.