Major crane collapses are most likely to dominate the news. In July 2017, two Samsung heavy cranes collided at a shipyard on the Norwegian North Sea, killing six workers and causing one tower to fall onto the platform below. However, an incident involving a crane does not have to be associated with a collapse. Dropped loads, broken lines, injuries from impacts by swinging loads, and even slip and fall accidents occur around cranes. Being a crane operator or working in such an environment in any capacity comes with risks.
Insufficient maintenance and negligence may contribute to incidents, and operator error is a concern as well. Accidents also occur because of miscommunications, mechanical defects, loads that aren’t properly balanced, and inclement weather and poor visibility. Defective hooks, hydraulics, wires, ropes, winches, controls, and rigging hardware may lead to accidents, and it is essential to have adequate training, supervision, and safety protocols to lessen the chances of a potentially fatal incident on a work site.
Cranes Are Inherently Dangerous
There are many components to cranes. All these parts require expertise to operate; they can fail due to wear and tear, defects, or if handled the wrong way. Workers injured in crane accidents often sustain crush injuries or blows to the head or back. Simply being struck by a small object from above can cause major trouble, as can slipping on a poorly maintained surface near the crane or its equipment.
Negligence and Crane Sites
One may be able to pin negligence on another party and have a claim if adequate training was not provided, or workers were not afforded the opportunity to rest. Fatigue can lead to mistakes and slow responses that lead to accidents. Forcing a worker to continue their duties when it’s known that conditions are dangerous is also unlawful. When gear has not been inspected to ensure it meets safety and operability standards and repaired when necessary, a negligent party may be sued.
Possible Outcome of an Accident Claim
Seamen hurt while operating or working around a crane during an accident may be eligible for damages. One may be awarded lost wages, medical expenses, disability, and maintenance and cure benefits under the Jones Act. Pain and suffering may also be awarded. The exact amount depends on the victim’s job role, the nature of their injuries, and what caused the accident. An incident on an unseaworthy vessel can result in damages awarded on the part of a negligent vessel owner. Provisions of the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act often apply to shoreside and harbor riggers and crane workers, but employers and other parties may still be held liable. Even equipment manufacturers can be found negligent if defective components can be proven to have caused an accident.
Crane accidents are notoriously challenging cases because there are many reasons and ways equipment can fail. However, proving a lack of maintenance or accountability contributed to a failure or incident is sometimes not as hard. Proof of safety protocols not followed and other evidence of neglect helps a worker injured in an accident (or their family/dependents) get the compensation they need.