Forklift & Crane Accidents
Forklifts and cranes are vital components to many construction projects and are the primary means for moving large, heavy loads, yet their operation poses significant risk of personal injury or wrongful death to the operator and other workers in proximity of the equipment, if the equipment is not properly maintained, or if operators and others are not properly trained in exercising safety precautions regarding forklifts and cranes.
Powered Industrial Trucks, aka forklifts, lie at the heart of tens of thousands of injuries every year. Workers may be struck by a lift truck or fall while standing on elevated pallets or forklift tines. A driver of a loaded forklift may have limited visibility, increasing the risk of driving into trenches, pits or excavations.
Forklift drivers are required by law to be properly trained and certified before they are allowed to operate the vehicle. The employer may be liable when an untrained or uncertified worker operates a forklift and causes injury to self or others.
Forklift accidents can be attributed to the following instances of negligence, among others:
- Horns and warning devices are inoperable or sound level is inadequate for working conditions
- Lack of fall protection (body belts and harnesses) for workers on elevated platforms
- Unapproved modifications or additions to the forklift that affect its capacity or safe operation
- Batteries on electric-powered forklifts are improperly positioned or unsecured
- Lack of seat belt restraints
Crane accidents are responsible for more than 20% of construction fatalities. As their speed, capacity and reach have been improved, construction workers must be increasingly aware of the parameters and limitations for safe crane use. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has adopted specific regulations covering the use of cranes in the construction industry, including the use of helicopter cranes, material and personnel hoists, elevators and conveyors. Crane operators and all workers at the site face significant risk of injury or death in a crane accident, such as when a load becomes unbalanced while being lifted, or if the crane collapses under the weight of an excessive load.
When operating a crane near overhead power lines, workers face a significant risk of electrocution. The crane itself can become energized, so that a person coming into contact with the equipment could be electrocuted. Equipment should be properly grounded at all times, and contact with cranes or equipment near high-voltage lines should be avoided or approached cautiously.
Common causes of crane accidents include:
- Crane not operated within manufacturer’s design perimeters
- Inadequate preplanning and coordination
- Operating procedures modified ad hoc by jobsite personnel
- Chosen crane is unsuited to task or inadequate for jobsite conditions
- Improper crane setup
- Inexperienced or unknowledgeable site supervisor/superintendent
- Inexperienced or unknowledgeable crane operator
- Overhead and electrical hazards
- Crane not set up on solid foundation
- Outriggers improperly extended
- Insufficient clearances to complete the lift
- Unguarded pinch points
- Congestion around crane operations
If you or a family member has been injured in an accident involving a crane or forklift, contact the Law Firm of Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation with an experienced New York personal injury attorney regarding your claim.