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OSHA Crane Accident Statistics

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Cranes are essential in numerous industries, including construction, manufacturing, and shipbuilding.

However, OSHA crane accident statistics reveal they can be as dangerous as they are helpful due to their massive size and weight. With improper usage, cranes can cause devastating injuries and death to workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 297 crane-related deaths from 2011 to 2017, accounting for an average of 42 deaths.

In 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported five deaths caused by overhead cranes.

You could be entitled to financial compensation if you or a loved one were injured in a crane accident. The experienced attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, advocate for workers’ rights and will help you pursue damages from at-fault parties.

Contact a Chicago crane accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.

OSHA Crane Accident Statistics

How Do Crane Accidents Occur?

Cranes are standard tools on construction sites, factories, and shipyards.

Their primary function is transporting heavy objects from one place to another, such as freighting, moving construction materials, and assembling heavy equipment.

Such heavy equipment can be hazardous with improper usage. Most crane accidents are due to the following factors:

  • Inexperience: Crane operators must complete a crane operator program and acquire a license and certification before working with a crane. Unfortunately, some crane accidents happen due to an operator’s lack of hands-on experience and guidance despite the importance of said training.
  • Unstable Grounds: Most cranes have support structures that prevent them from moving while operating. However, a crane on unstable terrain could collapse or tip over due to the ground being unable to support its weight.
  • Excessive Crane Load: Cranes buckle and tip over when they carry excess weight, hence the strict weight limits. Such accidents could lead to falling debris and crane rollovers.
  • Failure to Use a Signal Person: OSHA states that crane operators must use signal persons when necessary. A signal person communicates with the operator through gestures or voice, acting as the operator’s eyes and ears. The accident risk is higher when there is no signal person or if they don’t have proper training.
  • Mechanical Failure: Heavy machinery tends to wear out quickly. Without proper maintenance, cranes could fail and cause devastating injuries or death to anyone nearby.
  • Improper Assembly: Improper crane set-up increases the risk of an accident. Common mistakes related to improper assembly include the unnecessary extension of the boom and unsafe use of blocking supports.
  • Electrocution: These accidents usually occur when an uninsulated part of the crane touches energized power lines.

Most Common Crane Accident Causes

According to OSHA, the most common reasons for crane accidents are:

  • Crane making contact with live wires
  • Improper crane assembly or disassembly
  • Boom collapse or buckling
  • Crane overturns
  • Rigging failure
  • Overloading
  • Struck by moving load
  • Man-lift-related accidents
  • Working near counterweight
  • Two-blocking
  • Hoist limits [1]
  • Transportation incidents

OSHA Crane Accident Statistics: How Many Crane Accidents Occur Yearly?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 297 crane accident fatalities from 2011 to 2017, averaging 42 yearly deaths. Event or exposure data from these crane accidents reveal that:

  • Just over half of the fatal crane-related injuries involved a worker being struck by an object
  • 59% of crane accidents involved a worker being struck by a falling object or equipment
  • 51% of these crane accidents involved a worker being struck by an object falling from or moved by a crane
  • Transportation incidents accounted for 13% of deaths, while 14% were caused by falls to a lower level

Which Industries Have the Most Crane Accidents?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [2], about 43% of crane accident fatalities from 2011 to 2017 occurred in the construction industry. The manufacturing industry accounted for 24% of fatal injuries involving cranes.

One-third of deadly crane injuries involved employees in transportation and material-moving occupations. More than half of these workers were crane operators. Additionally, 31% of fatal occupational injuries happened to workers in construction and extraction occupations. 

During this period, specialty trade contractors and workers in heavy and civil engineering construction experienced the highest number of fatal crane accidents in the private construction industry.

Additionally, OSHA investigations found that white, non-Hispanic workers accounted for 72% of deaths, while 15% were Hispanic and Latino workers.

When Do Fatal Crane Accidents Happen Most Frequently?

In 22% of cases, the crane operator was working the crane at the time of the accident. Another 23% of crane-related accidents occurred while the worker was assembling, constructing, and dismantling tasks.

About 27% of fatal crane injuries happened on a construction site, excluding roadway construction, while another twenty-four percent occurred at a plant or factory. Crane accidents on road construction sites and dockyards accounted for 8% and 6% of remaining fatal injuries, respectively.

Which States Have the Highest Fatal Crane Accident Rates?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas had the most fatal injuries involving cranes from 2011 to 2017, accounting for 50 incidents. Florida and New York had 16 each, and California and Illinois accounted for 14 each.

Recent Crane Deaths

In 2022, OSHA reported the following worker deaths involving cranes:

  • An employee was struck by a 150-pound fork being moved by an overhead crane. The load detached from the screw clamp holding the forklift’s fork to the hoisting devices of the crane. 
  • A crane worker was crushed to death while loading a 68,000-pound die on a bolster to be set up for the next shift. While attempting to raise the die with the crane, the pressure was released from one side of the crane, causing the die to swing from the wire rope and crush the worker against another die not being used.
  • A worker was crushed by 462-pound stone slabs while loading them onto a trailer with a crane, trapped between the trailer and the slabs. 

Fatal Crane Injuries Involved

A crane’s mass and moving parts make it more dangerous than most heavy machinery on industrial sites. Hence, many crane accidents involve devastating injuries, including:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): These injuries can occur when an object strikes a worker on the head or falls head-first to a lower level, causing the brain to bounce around the skull. Common TBIs include concussions, brain hemorrhaging, and skull fractures. 
  • Spinal Cord Trauma: A sudden, traumatic blow to the spine can fracture, dislocate, compress, or crush the vertebrae and surrounding nerves. Severe spinal cord damage could lead to paralysis.
  • Neck Injuries: Crane accidents involving impacts from falling or moving objects could cause neck fractures or sprains.
  • Electrocution: Contacting live power lines could result in a fatal injury.
  • Crushing Injuries: Extreme force or pressure on a body part could lead to a crush injury. In crane accidents, crushing injuries usually happen when a worker gets trapped between moving parts or is crushed by a falling object.
  • Amputations: Some crane accidents result in severe injuries that require amputation. These cases can be fatal if a worker loses too much blood or suffers severe complications.

Who is Liable for Fatal Injuries Involving Cranes?

Hazardous conditions surrounding construction and industrial sites entail proper safety protocol to avoid fatal work injuries. Unfortunately, crane-related accidents still occur despite numerous OSHA-mandated rules and regulations.

Workers injured in crane accidents or families of deceased workers could seek compensation from liable parties, which may include:

  • Operators: Crane accident cases caused by human error usually hold the crane operator as the at-fault party. Operators could be held responsible if their negligence causes death or causes someone serious injury.
  • General Contractors: Public and private construction contractors have a legal duty to maintain a safe working environment. Failure to do so could lead to liability in fatal occupational injuries.
  • Property Owners: Most states require property owners to provide safe work conditions. The property owner could be at fault if the accident occurred due to a hazardous element on the construction site. On the other hand, the local government could be at fault if the accident happens on public property, such as at a road construction site.
  • Crane Owners: Cranes present extreme danger, especially when owners do not properly maintain them. A crane owner in the private construction industry could be liable for a fatal injury if it were caused by mechanical failure.
  • Crane Manufacturers: A crane accident resulting from a malfunctioning crane may direct fault to the manufacturer.

Our personal injury lawyers can help you determine who is at fault for the accident through in-house funded investigations.

How Can Industrial Sites Improve Crane Safety?

Fatal injuries involving cranes should never happen. Work sites can avoid crane accidents by:

  • Planning and avoiding rushed construction jobs
  • Adequately training workers to operate a crane safely
  • Hiring construction supervisors to ensure cranes are being operated safely
  • Ensuring adequate staffing to avoid employees working beyond operational capacity
  • Hiring construction workers with adequate training and experience
  • Clearing the industrial site of potential hazards
  • Creating an emergency protocol in case of crane accidents
  • Investing in crane movement control and snag prevention equipment

Talk to an Experienced Crane Accident Attorney Today

Worker deaths involving cranes are rare compared to other fatal occupational injuries. Nevertheless, they are just as devastating as any work-related fatality.

Were you injured in a crane accident? Or did you lose a family member to one? The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, are here to help. We work with experts focusing on crane accident investigation and with plaintiff law firms working with accident victims. Our lawyers will ensure you receive fair compensation for all your damages.

Contact our personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.

Our attorneys handle all crane accident cases on a contingency fee basis. You don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.

Resources: [1] OSHA, [2] Bureau of Labor Statistics

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