What Are the Most Common Types of Crane Accidents?

By Justin M. Beall

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2023 noted that crane-related accidents caused an average of 42 deaths per year during a seven-year period.

A heightened worksite awareness of what the most common types of crane accidents are, however, could help prevent injuries and fatalities. The attorney team at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP is here to help if you or a loved one suffered harm in a crane accident.

Many Common Types of Crane Accidents Are Often Preventable

what are the most common types of crane accidents

When injuries occur in an otherwise preventable accident caused by another party’s negligence, Washington, D.C. civil law allows harmed individuals to file a claim against the responsible party. The civil court system or the responsible party’s insurance carrier could then approve financial compensation for accident-related medical bills and lost wages.

You may also obtain compensation for noneconomic harm, such as pain and suffering. When a fatality occurs, family members may file a wrongful death suit.

Crane accidents can result in far-ranging harm that affects the operator, other workers, or anyone near the accident site. In some cases, cranes toppling over in metro areas can harm pedestrians and vehicle occupants in addition to worksite employees.

Boom collapse

One of the most common crane accidents, a boom collapse, can prove catastrophic in heavily trafficked metro areas. The boom is the extended arm of a crane that lifts heavy objects. When this structure collapses onto or near busy city streets, the crash can cause significant harm to both humans and property.

Investigators found that many boom collapse accidents were preventable and caused by operator negligence, poor equipment maintenance, or inadequate employee training.

Dropped load

The load carried by the crane’s boom can break loose and plummet down onto site workers or nearby people. A falling load may also break up into fragments that become dangerous projectiles.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations require crane operators to not hoist or suspend their loads above people. Failing to follow OSHA safety regulations could persuade a jury to hold a construction company liable for any harm caused.

Can a Crane Tip Over?

Many of the cranes used on construction sites, especially those involving tall buildings, rely on fixed cranes. Construction companies typically assemble fixed cranes at the worksite, where they remain throughout the duration of the project. Also called tower cranes, they can remain anchored directly into a concrete foundation. A mobile crane such as a crawler or rough-terrain model, however, can tip over under certain circumstances.

On worksites that rely on mobile units, a tip-over is a common type of crane accident. Extreme winds or hoisting a load that exceeds the model’s weight capacity could cause a mobile crane to tip over. With boom lengths that can reach more than 200 feet on larger mobile units, the damage caused by a tipped-over mobile crane could cover a wide area.

Preventing tip-overs is often a matter of checking wind speeds before operating the crane and making sure that the load capacity is not exceeded. When companies use mobile cranes, operators, and worksite supervisors must also ensure that the surface area is level. Worksite management should bring in a suitable rough-terrain model when an uneven surface area requires tractor treads or added support.

What Is the Number One Killer in Crane Accidents?

Many common crane accidents are due to negligence.

The number one cause of crane-related fatalities is the boom structure or its load striking someone. This type of crane accident is typically related to an employee’s negligence. A momentary lapse of attention or a distraction can bring disastrous results when a crane hoists a load that could weigh several tons.

Ensuring that no one is present under the load path during crane movements can help prevent many of the most common types of crane accidents.

What is the most common cause of crane accidents?

Overall, human error is the primary cause behind the majority of crane accidents. The fault may lie with the crane’s operator, the unit’s maintenance service, or a worksite supervisor. Site managers should remain on the lookout for workers and other individuals who may get too close to an active crane.

To prevent crane loads from breaking loose and striking someone, operators and site supervisors also need to check the load before hoisting. Improper load rigging could cause several tons of material to come crashing down under the load path.

Which Industries and Work Locations Are Most Affected?

Based on the U.S. BLS 2023 updated figures, one-third of the crane-related deaths occurring during the seven-year period under review were in the material-moving and transportation fields. Occupations involving extraction and construction accounted for 31% of crane-related fatalities.

Work locations where most crane accidents occur

According to the U.S. BLS figures, the majority of crane-related fatalities, 27%, occurred on non-roadway construction sites. Factory and plant locations were a close second at 24%. Road construction sites and dockyards accounted for 8% and 7% of the fatalities, respectively.

Crane operations near overhead power lines

Worksite locations near overhead power lines represent some of the most dangerous areas for crane operations. One of the most common types of crane accidents involves worker electrocution. Crane booms swinging into overhead high-voltage power lines are a major cause of worksite fatalities.

OSHA addressed the issue of accidents resulting from crane and power line contacts by releasing a series of worksite guidelines. Failure to comply with one or more of the OSHA guidelines could lead to an otherwise preventable fatality. Depending on the circumstances, a jury could find the company managing the worksite liable for an electrocuted crane operator or site worker.

Do You Need a Lawyer To Obtain Compensation?

Crane accident lawyer

An experienced attorney skilled in handling crane-related accidents could help you recover the optimal amount of compensation. Even the most common types of crane accidents can present complex issues. Experience counts when you choose an attorney.

A skilled crane accident lawyer on the Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP team will apply seasoned investigative techniques to your case. You can also count on our team’s direct knowledge of the relevant laws in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Contact us now for a free case review. You won’t owe us anything unless we obtain compensation for you.

About the Author
Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., and West Virginia injury attorney Justin M. Beall represents clients in a wide range of personal injury matters including catastrophic injury, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction accidents, medical malpractice and workers’ compensation claims.