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The Causes of Crane Accidents: A Guide for Injured Workers

New York City construction accident lawyers explain

Some of the most catastrophic construction accidents in New York City are crane accidents. Cranes are a fact of life in a city where construction often occurs dozens of floors above ground level. Unfortunately, they can also be dangerous.

But why do crane accidents happen? What laws govern cranes in New York City? Who’s responsible for enforcing such regulations? And who inspects crane accidents in New York City?

The answers to these questions are very important, especially if you or a loved one was injured in a New York City crane accident. That’s why our NYC construction accident attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP want to help.

Different types of construction cranes

First, it’s important to understand the differences between different types of cranes used at construction sites in New York City. In general, there are two main types of cranes:

  • Static cranes – Cranes that are installed in a fixed position on a building or on the ground. Once installed, they can only work along a fixed path. Types of static cranes include tower cranes, bulk-handling cranes, and overhead cranes.
  • Mobile cranes – Cranes on wheels, treads, or affixed to a truck that can be easily moved from one location to another. Mobile cranes are more versatile than static cranes, but they also require additional rigging. Types of mobile cranes include carry deck cranes, crawler cranes, and floating cranes.

Each type of construction crane has its own unique specifications when it comes to assembling, operating, and installing them.

How common are crane accidents in New York City?

With news about crane accidents in New York City often making headlines, you might not be surprised to learn that these types of construction accidents are fairly common throughout the city.

Nationwide, roughly 44 crane accident fatalities occur each year, according to workplace accident data compiled by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And about 6 percent of those fatalities occur in New York City alone.

The most common types of crane accidents

  • Crane collapse – Accident in which the crane collapses or tips over.
  • Crane boom collapse – Accident involving the part of the crane that lifts and moves objects.
  • Dropped load – Accident involving objects dropped from a crane, which can be especially dangerous if the crane is operating high above a street in New York City.
  • Electrical line crane accidents – Accident involving a crane coming into contact with live electrical wires.
  • Mechanical failures – Accident involving a crane that has mechanical problems, often due to poor maintenance or a design defect.
  • Falls from a height – Accident involving someone falling off a crane, often at a great height.

What are common causes of crane accidents?

While every crane accident has its own unique circumstances, some of the most common causes of crane accidents include:

  • Overloaded cranes.
  • Improperly secured cranes.
  • Unbalanced crane loads, which can cause instability.
  • Uneven ground.
  • Operator error.
  • Poor crane maintenance.

What laws apply to crane accidents?

Many of the laws that apply to construction cranes were created by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency. Most OSHA laws that apply to cranes and construction work in general can be found in OSHA Standard, Part 1926, which includes the “Safety and Health Regulations for Construction.”

Specifically, OSHA Standard 1926 Subpart CC (cranes and derricks in construction) has 47 subparts with numerous specific rules and regulations that apply specifically to construction cranes, including:

  • Ground conditions for cranes, which includes making sure that the ground is level, compact and firm.
  • Assembly and disassembly requirements for cranes.
  • Power line safety requirements for cranes.
  • Inspection requirements.
  • Fall protection rules for cranes.
  • Crane operator training and certification requirements, which must be periodically renewed.

Who enforces construction crane laws in New York City?

The rules and regulations that apply to construction cranes in New York City are enforced by New York City’s Buildings' Cranes and Derricks Division, which “oversees the design, installation, and safe operation of equipment used for hoisting or lifting,” according to the agency.

For example, in order to operate a construction crane in New York City, the construction company must obtain three certificates from the NYC Buildings’ Cranes and Derricks Division. The three certificates include:

  • Verification that the crane design and on-site testing match the specific make and model of the crane slated to be used at the construction site.
  • An inspection by city officials of the crane to make sure the crane slated to be used is in proper working order,
  • An on-site inspection by the city to verify that a specific crane can legally operate at a specific location in New York City.

Who investigates construction crane accidents in New York City?

In general, the New York City Department of Buildings or someone from the Department’s Cranes and Derricks Division investigates crane accidents in the city. In addition, in some cases, OSHA investigators also sometimes investigate crane accidents, especially if the accident resulted in a fatality.

It’s also common for the construction company itself or its insurance company to investigate a crane accident. They do this for one reason: to protect their interests.

This is why you should have an experienced New York City construction accident lawyer working with you. That way, you can make sure your rights are respected and that you receive the financial compensation you rightfully deserve.

Who’s responsible for paying for my NYC crane accident?

If you got hurt while working on a construction site in New York City, you should be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits to help pay for your accident-related expenses. You may also be able to pursue a third-party personal injury claim if your injury was caused by a company other than your direct employer, such as the company that owns the crane, the crane manufacturer, or the general contractor. Such claims can cover damages not covered by workers’ comp, such as pain and suffering.

The best way to know for sure who’s responsible for paying for your accident is to talk to an experienced New York City construction accident attorney.

Why should I hire a New York City crane accident attorney?

Don’t underestimate the complexity of your New York City crane accident. This is especially true if several companies are involved and no one wants to take responsibility for what happened. Rather than simply paying you the money you deserve for your accident, some companies and their insurance providers will deny doing anything wrong and fight hard to pay you as little as possible.

Our New York City construction accident lawyers at the Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP can help you every step of the way. We have decades of experience successfully handling injury claims and lawsuits involving crane accidents in Manhattan and throughout New York City. And we will not waste any time getting right to work on your crane injury claim or lawsuit.

Give your legal case the best opportunity for success. Contact us and schedule an appointment with a New York City construction accident attorney you can count on after your crane accident.

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