Tower cranes are an essential to the construction industry worldwide. The design of tower cranes allows them to be used in crowded and congested locations. The shape of a tower crane can make some assume that the tower crane is unstable, fragile or even incapable of lifting heavy loads without collapsing or falling over. Tower cranes first developed in Europe are in fact safer and have less accidents that mobile cranes, but when a catastrophic tower crane collapse happens, the trail of destruction is widespread due to the large shadow of steel beams, mast or tower, motor house, slewing unit, jib, cables, counter weights and even the operator’s cab all become projectiles during a tower crane collapse.
Over the last few years there have been many tower crane deaths and serious injuries resulting in tower crane collapses in large urban areas. Some of the most notable of the tower & construction crane accidents include:
Most tower cranes accidents occur during three phases. The first being during the erection of the tower crane, the jumping of the tower crane or lifting / raising it higher and finally during the dismantling of the tower crane. Other tower crane accidents when objects and loads or dropped or fall accidentally due to operator or crane worker error, electrical line contact, cracks or fatigue failures and stress failures or during high winds or due to improper riggings or inspections. The use of lifting / weight charts and overload alarms helps to prevents many obvious crane accidents from occurring.
Improper modifications, the interchange or use of different parts from other tower cranes, including different set of brakes, mast, jibs, motors or other safety systems that a crane was not originally designed for, can lead to a catastrophic tower collapse, metal fatigue failures, stress failures, loss of braking capacity, improper load or counter balance calculations and other system overloads.
Many tower crane accidents also occur due to improper erection or assembly and the lack of qualified tower crane inspectors to assure safety compliance before tower crane testing, use and finally dismantling. In some states and cities there are a totally inadequate number of inspectors and in other cities, crane & derrick inspectors have been arrested for filing false crane inspection reports. This has prompted some to suggest a outside crane inspectors should be hired to certify crane inspections and others have suggested that the manufacture of the cranes be in charge especially since they are the ones who would best know of the lifting & load capacities of the tower crane under load. Until then, tower crane accidents are going to continue to rise as the use of tower cranes pepper the construction landscape.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of a tower crane accident, tip over, fall or collapse, then call the Willis Law Firm in Houston, Texas to discuss the legal options available to you and your family.