Every day, countless amounts of people can be seen strolling around Manhattan. And all of them, from the most seasoned lifelong New Yorker to the freshest, novice-level tourist, has likely noticed the abundance of construction cranes, positioned at various heights, serving various functions. These construction cranes not only build New York’s innumerable edifices, but they repair them when they’re broken, and fill them with the belongings of their inhabitants. These long, gooseneck apparatus speckle the skyline and streetscape alike, like some metallic avian species, alighting wherever there is work to be done.
What may not be immediately recognizable about cranes, however, is the degree of difficult inherent in “running” them. (As it’s called.) Skilled technicians on the ground level work the controls from the operator’s cab. Equally well-trained workers are sometimes stationed on top floors, helping to guide cargo through precarious openings or onto windswept roofs. The team works in tandem with overseers and crew chiefs, while wind, gravity and other uncertainties conspire to wreak mayhem. While everyone involved works hard to maintain safe work environments, mechanical failures or errors made by the team may contribute to accidents.
Types of Crane Accidents
According to OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), there are many types of crane-related accidents. Here’s a partial list of possible problems associated with the use of cranes:
- The boom contacts a live electric wire, causing electrocution. (This is the most common crane accident. Over a third of all crane accidents are caused by electrification of the boom.)
- An overload or miscalculation causes the crane to tip, or drop its overladen content. Since cranes work at such heights, dropped cargo can burst dangerously on the ground and scatter debris like shrapnel.
- The boom itself might collapse, causing catastrophic damage.
- Crew stationed in high stories, tasked with guiding items through windows or onto roofs, may be dragged out of said windows or off of said roofs if they are holding onto a piece of furniture or cargo and the crane operator jerks the controls too quickly. Other injuries may result if any operator is improperly trained.
- The crane’s counterweight, a safety mechanism which works to prevent tilt, is intrinsically dangerous itself. Construction crew could be crushed if the counterweight unhinges, flips, or fails in some other manner.
- Passers-by or construction workers struck by swinging boom may be knocked from a height or injured by the original blunt force trauma.
- Some constituent piece of the crane could malfunction, perhaps due to improper maintenance or negligent inspection protocol.
Crane Accident in Midtown Manhattan
In fact, just last week, a crane-related accident occurred in Midtown Manhattan. A heating and air-conditioning unit loosed itself from a crane and fell 30 stories. Given how crowded Manhattan is on almost any given day, it is a small miracle that only a handful of people were minimally injured, and none were killed. Though reports differ, most seem to indicate that somewhere between 7 and 10 people, including both workers and passing pedestrians, suffered only bruises and cuts. (Plus the scare of a lifetime.)
The crane had been trying to lug the temperature control unit to a service room atop a Madison Avenue office building. As the massive air-conditioning unit toppled from the crane, it skimmed the side of the building, causing a spray of glass and particulate to follow it as it descended towards the sidewalk. The impact created a massive cloud of jet black smoke, which burst skywards and billowed out over the street. But when the dust had settled, surprisingly few were hurt. Two of the passers-by that were affected even refused medical treatment. Surely, this is a testament to the rules set in place to ensure the safety of New York citizens and workers alike.
Protocol designates that buildings being worked on by cranes must be emptied, as this one was, limiting internal harm towards humans.
As of right now, officials still do not know what went wrong, or why the crane suddenly dropped its contents.
Kaplan Lawyers PC
Thankfully, crane accidents are a rare occurrence. So, when you’re visiting this great city, you can look confidently towards the skies and marvel at its fleets of cranes, and admire the capacity for greatness, for expansion, and for industry represented by these amazing machines. However, if you or someone you know has been injured, either while operating a crane or by fallen debris dislodged by a crane, you owe it to yourself to contact a law firm experienced in handling cases of this nature. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we have a skilled and compassionate team of attorneys, with expertise in handling cases concerning construction cranes. We can help you win compensation for expensive medical bills, and in some cases, can also help you recoup money you lost while missing time from work. Our consultations are a free and easy way to begin learning about your rights.