A previous post discussed the hazards of one type of heavy machinery, front loaders, which are commonly used at construction sites. Another piece of heavy machinery used on construction sites which, if improperly used or secured, may result in catastrophic injury, are cranes. To speak with an experienced construction accident lawyer in Chicago, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.
Cranes, by design, are used to lift and lower materials or move materials horizontally from one part of a construction building to another. For example, cranes can be used to move steel, concrete, large pipes, large tools such as generators and other materials too big for humans to carry. A crane typically weighs several thousand pounds, and operates at elevations several hundred feet above ground. Due to the size, weight, height, and strength of cranes, this type of machinery is subject to stringent safety regulations.
Cranes are governed by §1926.550 of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Construction Safety and Health Outreach Program, and failure to adhere to those rules and regulations may constitute negligence. §1926.550 outlines many specifics, from location of instruction plates and decals and when ropes are to be removed from service, to proper guarding and insulating of exhaust pipes to safety guidelines of the use of electrical power. It also states that an employer “shall comply with the manufacturer’s specifications and limitations applicable to the operation of any and all cranes,” and also that “no modifications or additions which affect the capacity or safe operation of the equipment shall be made by the employer without the manufacturer’s written approval.” In other words, neither the contractor, subcontractor or anyone else working at the construction site can change anything about the crane in order to have it carry a load heavier than it is designed to carry.
As cranes come in different sizes and functions, from mobile truck cranes seen at road construction sites to tower cranes found at many tall building construction sites, cranes also have different load capacities. Load capacities affect balance, and the safety of the crane operator and other workers, especially as the load is lifted higher off the ground.
The crane itself must be able to handle the load, as well as its components, such as wires and switches. If the load is too heavy, the crane may become unbalanced, or a wire may snap, causing the load to fall onto workers below. In such instances of a construction worker injured or killed by a falling load, it is critical to consult with a lawyer to determine whether the contractors and property owners were following appropriate safety procedures.
Though cranes are common pieces of heavy machinery at construction sites, they can cause catastrophic injury if not operated safely. The crane itself may be faulty, or have been constructed using faulty or substandard parts. An experienced Chicago construction accident injury attorney can help you identify the proper parties responsible, and hold them accountable. Call Passen & Powell a call at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation with one of our top injury lawyers.