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Crane accident compensation claims

cranesThanks to vastly improved health and safety regulations governing their use – together with the subsequent steps taken to avoid accidents which have been implemented by operators, owners and employers – instances of crane accidents are now few and far between.

But that’s not to say that they don’t still happen from time to time, and when acknowledging the scope of the machinery implicated in typical accidents involving cranes you don’t need us to remind you that the extent of physical injuries has the potential to be on a significant scale.

Indeed, a range of crush injuries in this scenario will always prove the more costly, both from a personal injury and future claiming perspective due in the most part to the size of the apparatus, with the prospect of fatalities often a likely outcome when taking this into account.

That said, the latest statistics available which focus on crane accidents here in the UK confirm that deaths caused by incidents whereby industrial equipment of this nature is involved are mercifully very low, with an average of one fatality a year.

In what situations would cranes normally be used?

By and large cranes tend to be facilitated most by the construction sector and are commonly observed on building sites up and down the country; deployed by the industry as a means of moving and shifting raw materials of a particularly heavy design and sizeable structure to locations where they’re needed and thereafter helping in the process of securing said pivotal parts, foundations and structures when and where required.

Aside from being seen on mainland construction sites (and remaining mining areas in Britain), cranes of all shapes and sizes can also be witnessed on North Sea-based oil rigs (where they are utilised on drilling platforms) and elsewhere at sea (chiefly in the assembly and erection of wind farm-located turbines).

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Just to be clear, could you explain how (and why) individuals may find themselves in danger when working in the vicinity of cranes?

Certainly. As with the potential for many industrial accidents, there are a number of hypothetical scenarios where succumbing to a personal injury due to a crane can unfortunately play out; and where essentially the victim can unwittingly find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time so to speak.

What’s more, the following examples could transpire irrespective of whether or not the relevant (and legally-required) health and safety measures have been adopted or not. Situations can include;

  • Mechanical faults affecting the crane
  • Unforeseen crane collapse (partially of totally)
  • Crane making accidental contact with overhead power lines/cables
  • An unexpected collision with another crane (or other heavy plant being facilitated on the site at that particular juncture)
  • Adverse weather conditions which lead to compromised visibility (including heavy rain and high winds)
  • Unbalanced or incorrectly secured loads being lifted by the crane
  • Loads suspended in mid-air by the crane suddenly moving or falling without prior warning
  • Human error during the assembly/disassembly procedure or while rigging the crane from the outset

 

For the record, are workers who are employed where cranes are typically present advised about health and safety requirements beforehand?

Of course, as it’s a fundamental stipulation and failure to do so would leave the employer/operator liable from a personal injury claim/insurance perspective should anything go wrong whilst individuals in their employ are fulfilling the remits of their specific role.

However there are occasions when perhaps certain aspects of HSE training might have been overlooked or not delivered to the appropriate levels necessitated to ensure safe working practices are subsequently followed; possibly leading to claims of negligence at a later date.

Due to the very size of the plant involved, stringent measures have to be taken to ensure everyone’s safety on site, along with any members of the public who might also be at risk, with employers/crane operators needed to strictly adhere to legal obligations and ‘duty of care’ legislation and effectively do everything within their power (and levels of accountability) to avert danger and the potential for accidents to manifest.

Do those employees working in the vicinity of cranes need to wear any special protective garments?

Yes, and not just those coming into close contact with cranes and other heavy plant equipment for that matter. Everyone working (or visiting) a construction site of any description should always be wearing protective equipment which even in its most rudimentary form comprises of high visibility jackets, hard hats and steel toe-capped safety boots; not least so they are easily seen by other employees who are in control of/responsible for the operation of various machinery.

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And what about the crane itself? Obviously it’s visible, yet how do people know that it’s safe to use and considered ‘fit for purpose?’

Very relevant question. Rest assured that the crane itself should (by way of compliance with HSE regulation amongst others) be routinely subjected to full-scale inspections to determine its continued suitability to carry out the job in hand in a safety-conscious way.

What’s more, in the event of maintenance/repair work being identified, then these jobs need to be undertaken ASAP. And suffice to say, those individuals tasked with operating the cranes/other machinery of this heavy industrial nature need to have been comprehensively trained and equipped with the skillset to do so (as touched on earlier); as, for similar health and safety reasons, those individuals charged with securing, slinging and locating the load are required by regulatory law to be.

Why is the rigging of crane loads universally adjudged to being so important?

Because if the rigging aspect isn’t carried out properly the consequences can be potentially devastating. A plethora of factors need to be considered and applied to crane use before operation is deemed safe, with these traditionally including the likes of establishing the wind level, running the rule over the possibility of an excess volume of water saturating the load, along with anything else that could adversely affect the movement or weight.

If any vital element is overlooked and poor rigging results then personal injury, damage to property and a range of other serious hazards could take effect. And once all the rigging is completed, it’s also imperative that its capabilities are tested then and there to ascertain if it’s up to the job envisaged by way of raising the load a few inches off the ground to ensure that no swing develops and that the load is completely secure.

Vital rules and regulations which MUST be complied with when facilitating cranes;

  • Loads being well secured
  • Slings being adequate to complete the task
  • Slings should be unkinked, load balanced and secured
  • No sudden stops
  • No obstructions while lifting (or traveling)
  • No loose items on load (or crane prior to lift)
  • Bumping into runway stops is prohibited
  • Hoist line must be vertical prior to the lift (remove slack in the hoist slowly)
  • No crane load should pass overhead of personnel (clear the area before making the lift)
  • No one is to ride the crane without permission

 

Are there any important things a crane operator should avoid doing to minimise risks to other site workers?

In addition to what we’ve just mentioned above, the following instructions should ALWAYS be adhered to;

  • NEVER lift people (and never ride the hoisting load)
  • NEVER lift load over people. No one shall be under the hoisting load
  • ENSURE that the sling is well balanced. Avoid tip loading, and loading on hook latch
  • NEVER lift the load over the rated capacity
  • NEVER operate with kinked, twisted or damaged chain
  • ALWAYS avoid side pull or end pull, and quick reversal operations
  • NEVER leave the suspended load unattended
  • ENSURE that you take up slack slowly

 

OK, but what if an accident does happen which involves a crane. What would a victim do in terms of setting the financial recompense ball rolling?

To be entitled to pursue a claim for personal injury you must first be able to prove beyond any measurable doubt that an employer/operator or third party is wholly responsible for the injuries you sustained as a direct result of their incompetence/lack of duty of care/actions/general negligence.

It’s also worthwhile having medical certification/documented proof from a hospital that you were admitted to A&E (any other clinical department) in the immediate wake of suffering an injury, whilst obtaining some form of witness statement will also help an individual case brought against a culpable company/organisation/party from the get-go.

The best way to actively pursue (and ultimately secure a financial compensation pay-out) in terms of bringing an employer/other party to task for injuries you have sustained is to seek the professional advice, guidance and legal support of a dedicated personal injury claims solicitor/specialist as soon as possible.

Furthermore anyone looking to make a crane accident claim (or any other in that regard) should be mindful of the underlying fact that you only have a limited window of time in which to register your claim and set the procedure in motion. This is normally set at within 3 years of the injury having been suffered.

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Accidents at work injury resources

Common hazards at work