Industrial cranes are a primary component of the construction and manufacturing industry across the country. The safety of the workers operating around the equipment and those outside the construction site should be viewed more importunately then the completion of a project. It is vitally important that all construction companies develop, administer and constantly review all of their operations for compliance with industrial standards as well as governmental regulations. There is an inherent danger with industrial crane operations, from the set up, to the movement of loads to the dismantling and removal of the crane from the site. Employees that work for each construction company, whether an operator, supervisor, rigger or laborer, all must be trained and motivated to always do the right thing when it comes to safety. There should never be a reason for taking a short cut to save time or money at the expense of safety. The reputation of a construction company and the construction industry in general is placed at risk when it employs approaches to operations that are risky to its employees and the general public. It should be crystal clear that construction companies have a lot to lose should they choose to operate in a manner that does not show appreciation for the vital role that an experienced safety department can play in ensuring ethical, legal and successful operations. A casual review of several hundred industrial crane incidents and an in-depth review of several dozen events involving industrial cranes has opened my eyes to what should be classified by OSHA as an epidemic. OSHA had not substantively updated 29 CFR 1926 subpart “N”, the rules for industrial cranes, since 1971. In 1988 an amendment was formatted for personnel on platforms or man baskets and in 1993 an amendment was formatted to keep personnel clear of lifting or suspended loads (Federal Register: Vol. 73, No. 197). Following many years of meeting with industrial professionals and public comment periods, in November 2010 OSHA promulgated the final rules to 29 CFR Part 1926 Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard (Federal Register: Vol. 75, No. 152). The advancements in technology of crane and derrick manufacturing coupled with the alarming increase in worker fatalities, new rules were established to make the use of cranes and derricks safer. Review of Industrial Crane Accidents:
In 2005 a 100-ton crane crashed to the ground at a condominium complex being built in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Three construction workers were severely injured during the crane collapse. An investigation by OSHA concluded that the crane operator had lodged a penny in the safety override switch of the control panel to allow the crane to pick heavier loads and make the crane easier to operate (CraneAccidents.com 2007). On July 18, 2008 at the Lyondell/Bassell Refinery in Houston, Texas a Versacrane TC 36000 series crane was being set up for a plant turn-around. The Versacrane’s main boom was 420 feet with a mast of 240 feet and a rated lifting capacity over one million pounds. The crane was preparing to remove the coker drum header from the coker unit. While connecting the crane’s mast to a traveling counterweight the main boom was elevated to a vertical or “overhaul” position causing the crane to topple over backwards. During the collapse of the Versacrane, a second crane, being used to set up the Versacrane was hit and it too collapsed. The ensuing investigation identified two major failures. The operator of the Versacrane had never operated the crane before, against company policy, and the crane company superintendent ignored company policy regarding crane operations and crane alarm settings. Four workers were critically injured and succumbed to their injuries (Ammons 2010). An incident occurred in Kentucky when a truck driver standing inside the swing radius of a HTC-835 crane was struck and killed when the crane counterweight swung around and struck him in the...
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