If you work on a construction site in New York City, you know firsthand the pressures that contractors and subcontractors face. You also know that working conditions are complex and, when an accident occurs, it can be difficult to tell exactly why it happened and whose fault it really was.
Many people have theories about what happened, but a thorough investigation is needed to determine the exact cause. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we often start cases with a thorough investigation. This is especially true when there is a great deal at stake, like when a crane accident causes death or serious injury. Here are some of the most common factors involved in New York City crane accidents:
Severe weather conditions: Gusts of wind are one of the primary weather conditions that cause crane accidents. New York City rules and regulations prohibit crane and derrick operators from operation when the wind speed exceeds 30 miles per hour, or when the wind is predicted to reach 30 mph. OSHA regulations do not dictate a maximum wind speed, but they do instruct that a qualified person determines whether it is safe to hoist a person when wind speeds exceed 20 mph.
Overextending the crane boom: Extending the crane boom beyond the manufacturer's specifications can impact the crane's capacity to carry loads. It puts too much pressure on mechanical, hydraulic and structural components of the crane and can cause the crane to fall.
Interference with other structures: Accidents happen when cranes hit power lines, other construction equipment, or even a building. Regulations are in place to prevent this from happening. For example, New York City rules and regulations say that cranes and derricks must be operated so that no part of the machine or its load comes within 15 feet of energized power lines at any time. However, this doesn't always happen (which brings us to our next point).
Operator error: Human mistakes are often a significant factor in crane accidents. There are many reasons for this. Workers experience a great deal of pressure on the job to get things done quickly and without additional costs. The pressure can mean that safety precautions, rules and regulations are ignored in order to complete work.
Lack of proper training can also be a factor. When inexperienced subcontractors are brought in, or when management cuts corners by skipping proper training, it puts everyone on the job site at risk. That's why when worker error was involved the subcontractor or general contractor can often be held accountable.
Dangerous or defective crane parts: The crane itself may have been defective. When this happens, the crane manufacturer or distributor may be held responsible. OSHA sets strict standards for inspection and maintenance of cranes, but these are not always followed, and crane accidents can still happen despite best efforts.
A thorough investigation can answer a lot of questions about exactly what happened, and those answers can have a significant impact on the strategies that lawyers use to represent clients in construction accident cases.
No matter what factors were involved or what strategies were used, one thing always remains the same: Crane accidents are devastating. They change the lives of the people and their families and friends involved, often times forever.