CPWR Offers Recommendations for Preventing Crane Fatalities, Injuries

The number of crane-related deaths among construction workers is significant, with an average of 22 workers killed annually, according to a report released by CPWR -- the Center for Construction Research and Training.

CPWR stated that the report's findings used Bureau of Labor Statistics' worker fatality data from 1992 to 2006 on construction workers: the numbers and causes of death, the trades of workers involved, the size of employers, and types of cranes involved. The report gives eight recommendations to prevent fatalities and injuries from occurring. The report suggests OSHA conduct more thorough investigations and more detailed reporting of crane fatalities when they occur, and urges action on public comment and adoption of OSHA's proposed crane and derrick standards, including the recommendations within this report.

The CPWR report found the leading cause of death among workers was electrocution when the crane touched an overhead power line. Of the 323 worker deaths recorded by BLS, 102 workers (32 percent) were electrocuted and 68 workers (21 percent) died due to a crane collapse. Of the 59 deaths (18 percent) of workers struck by crane boom/jib, 52 deaths were caused by falling booms or jibs (the jib is the short piece that extends on the other side of the boom). A falling boom or jib can happen when the crane is being assembled or dismantled. Other causes of crane-related deaths are described in the report.

According to CPWR, the findings show more than half of worker deaths were among construction laborers and heavy equipment operators. Workers employed by small contractors represent a large portion (about one-third) of total deaths. Although tower crane collapses are dramatic, most crane-related deaths involved mobile cranes.

"Construction workers are counting on employers and OSHA to keep them safe on the job," said Edward Malloy, president of both the Greater New York and the New York State Building and Construction Trades Councils. "Union contractors and unions spend millions of dollars training workers -- we know we bring that to the table. But poorly maintained equipment or a 'speed up' work schedule can bring disaster to any worker, even the best trained one."

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