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Crane Fire and Collapse in Manhattan Highlights the Dangers of High-Rise Construction Projects

Tower crane working in New York City

A July crane collapse in Manhattan injured 12 individuals, including three New York City firefighters who swiftly responded to the construction accident. The incident occurred in Midtown Manhattan and involved a tower crane plummeting from a height of 45 stories. Multiple news sources, including The New York Daily News, have covered this tragic event.

"I was on the deck when it started smoking," Marco Araujo, a carpenter working at the construction site, told the Daily News. "He tried to put it out… It didn't work because the flames were so fast... It was crazy."

What caused the crane accident in Manhattan?

On July 26 at 7:25 a.m., a crane accident occurred near 10th Avenue and 41st Street in Manhattan. The crane, which was 180 feet in length, caught fire on the 45th floor of a planned mixed-use building under construction. Tragically, the crane collapsed, plummeting 45 stories to the street below, causing panic among pedestrians who fled for safety.

Preliminary findings indicated that the crane fire originated from a hydraulic fluid leak in the crane's engine compartment. This fluid dripped onto a heated metal plate, inadvertently igniting a blaze on the building's deck, according to a source cited by The New York Daily News.

How common are crane accidents?

Unfortunately, this latest crane accident is not an isolated incident. In New York, construction accidents involving cranes have become increasingly common, leading to numerous severe injuries and fatalities.

Nationally, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reports an average of about 44 crane-related fatalities annually at construction sites. Although these accidents can happen anywhere, New York has witnessed an increase in such incidents.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that between 2011 and 2017, 16 individuals died in crane accidents in New York. This figure positions the state with the third-highest fatality count nationwide for crane-related incidents.

Crane accidents can happen for many reasons

Crane accidents often stem from errors made by construction companies or individual workers. These errors encompass various scenarios, including:

  • Crane operator or human error, cited as the primary cause of crane accidents by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Flawed assembly or disassembly of a crane, leading to accidents.
  • Inadequately secured cranes that result in collapses or falls.
  • Absence of comprehensive safety protocols aimed at preventing crane accidents.
  • Insufficient safety training for both crane operators and other construction personnel.
  • Defective equipment or poorly maintained cranes, contributing to accidents.
  • Improper rigging, causing cranes to become unsecured and fall.
  • Overloading of cranes when lifting heavy loads, potentially causing a collapse.

Ways to prevent crane accidents

Construction companies and crane operators need to be extremely careful and take numerous safety precautions to prevent crane accidents. Effective preventive steps include:

  • Conducting comprehensive safety training for both crane operators and other construction personnel working in proximity to cranes.
  • Equipping crane operators and construction workers with essential safety gear.
  • Thoroughly securing cranes prior to initiating any construction activities on the site.
  • Consistently inspecting cranes to confirm proper security and identify any potential equipment-related risks that might lead to accidents.
  • Swiftly addressing any mechanical malfunctions or structural imperfections involving the crane or the supporting building, especially when dealing with towering structures like those prevalent in New York City.

Seeking justice after a crane accident

Claims involving crane accidents are complex because they involve various unique factors and elements, making them challenging to navigate in determining liability and seeking compensation for injured workers.

If you were injured or a loved one died in a New York crane accident, the dedicated legal team at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP can provide the guidance and support you need to find your way forward. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of crane accidents, New York regulations, and personal injury law.

We are committed to investigating the incident, identifying liable parties, and advocating for your rights to secure the compensation you deserve. Put your trust in a law firm that's been fighting for injured New Yorkers for over 80 years. Contact us today for a free case consultation. We have 12 offices conveniently located in New York, including five offices in New York City.

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