April 13th, 2017
Compass General Construction faced every construction company’s nightmare on the afternoon of April 11, 2017. The ill-fated site had a cable on a crane rental sever, causing rubble to fall and damage other parts of the project, as well as colliding with a passerby’s bicycle.
Fortunately, nobody was injured by this malfunction. However, this mishap displays the necessity of regulation by OSHA for cranes and other pieces of heavy equipment.
Overview of the Accident
When the crane’s cable snapped, there was a ripple effect across the jobsite. The framing of a floor near the top of the structure was compromised by the crash of the crane. Materials knocked loose by the crash were tossed about the affected area.
The several dozen workers that were present at the time of the accident fled and made their way to safety. Debris fell so far as to hit a commuter’s tire of his bike but the owner of the bike was not injured.
The site at fault is located in the popular Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. A project by South Carolina company Johnson Development Associates, the plans for the property includes upwards of 100 apartments with commercial storefronts on the ground floor.
The project, located at 2314 Western Ave, has not been without controversy. Seattle’s local carpenter’s union has picketed and protested at the location as recently as March of this year.
According to the Seattle Times, there are public records that indicate that the responsible contracting party, Compass General Construction, has been flagged for five violations over the past five years during safety inspections. Four of these violations were classified as serious and potentially dangerous.
It should be noted, although it was subsequently corrected, that one of the compromised guidelines involved crane regulations. This latest incident is currently under investigation by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.
Cranes: Not to be Handled Lightly
Cranes, large pieces of aerial construction equipment, have the potential to be very dangerous (and even fatal) if not utilized correctly. Many crane rentals can only be furnished with the accompaniment of a crane operator, as to provide further protection from such accidents.
One of the most notable incidents of operation of a crane gone wrong occurred just last year in the borough of Queens in New York City. In this case, a crane wire snapped as well. However, the welfare of two individuals on this site was not as lucky as the personnel in Seattle.
The 6,500-pound beam that the crane was supporting struck and killed George Smith and Alessandro Ramos, the operator and flagman for the unit. While there were substantial winds during the time of the snap, it is not likely that winds were responsible for the incident.
Steps Toward Safe Crane Operation
As with any other classification of construction equipment, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stringent requirements when operating a crane. OSHA provides a great online resource for locating these rules, with safety hazards and regulations separated by industry.
Due to the sheer size of a crane and the large scale of work that they are used in, following these guidelines should always be a priority of every contracting firm and its employees when utilizing a crane on a project.