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Crane Accidents on Construction Sites [2024 Guide]

Use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a Crane Accident Lawsuit Claim.

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Written By:
Tor Hoerman
Tor Hoerman

Attorney Tor Hoerman, admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association since 1995 and The Missouri Bar since 2009, specializes nationally in mass tort litigations. Locally, Tor specializes in auto accidents and a wide variety of personal injury incidents occuring in Illinois and Missouri.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and attorneys at TorHoerman Law and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Tor Hoerman, you can do so here.

TorHoerman Law does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

An Overview of Crane Accidents on Construction Sites

On this page, we’ll discuss crane accidents on construction sites, common crane accident causes and resulting injuries, how personal injury attorneys can help individuals who have suffered fatal crane injuries seek justice, and much more.

Crane Accidents: A Risk Factor for Fatal Occupational Injuries

Every construction site has the potential to be a hazardous work environment with a high risk of accidents and injuries.

One of the major causes of fatalities on construction sites is crane accidents.

Cranes are necessary for lifting and moving heavy materials and equipment, making them essential to many construction projects.

Their size, weight, and complex operation also make them a potential danger.

Crane accidents can cause serious injuries on construction workers, cause significant property damage, and even result in deaths.

Crane Accidents on Construction Sites

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) recorded 297 fatal injuries involving cranes between 2011 and 2017, with an average of 42 fatalities per year.

43% of the crane accidents during this period occurred in the private construction industry.

293 of the 297 fatal crane injuries involved men.

Those affected by crane accidents often deal with various physical, emotional, and financial hardships.

Injuries sustained from crane accidents can lead to medical expenses, lost wages, permanent disability, and more.

Crane accident victims and their families must consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to understand their legal rights and options for seeking justice and financial compensation.

TorHoerman Law has a team of experienced attorneys dedicated to representing victims of crane accidents and their families. 

Contact us for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for the crane accident lawsuit instantly.

Table of Contents

Crane Accidents in the Construction Industry

Cranes are indispensable on construction job sites and crucial in lifting, maneuvering, and strategically positioning heavy loads.

Cranes also present inherent risks and potential hazards.

The prevalence of crane accidents in the construction industry underscores the urgent need for comprehensive crane safety protocols and stringent adherence to regulations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed specific standards for crane operation, inspection, and maintenance to protect workers and prevent accidents.

These regulations cover all aspects of crane use, including operator qualifications, signal person requirements, and crane assembly and disassembly procedures.

Crane accidents occur despite OSHA standards and safety measures.

Understanding the types and causes of crane accidents is essential to preventing them from happening in the future.

Types of Crane Accidents

There are various types of crane accidents, each with unique risks and consequences.

Types of crane accidents can include:

  • Dropped loads
  • Overturned cranes
  • Crane collapses
  • Struck-by accidents
  • Electrocution accidents
  • Caught in/between accidents
  • Crane crashes

Dropped Loads

Among the most common crane accidents are incidents involving dropped loads.

Cranes are designed to lift heavy loads, and any failure in the lifting mechanism can result in a dropped load and falling objects, causing severe damage and injuries.

OSHA reported a crane accident on July 23, 2020, where an overhead crane dropped a load of cardboard pallets on top of a cleaning employee.

The employee suffered crush injuries to his pelvis, necessitating immediate hospitalization for treatment.

Overturned Cranes

Overturned cranes are another common type of fatal crane accident.

The weight of the load, combined with operator error, uneven ground conditions, or extreme wind speeds, can cause a crane to overturn and potentially injure or kill workers in the vicinity.

OSHA reported an incident on October 29, 2007, in which a mobile crane overturned while lifting a 49,800-pound precast concrete wall.

Two nearby employees suffered injuries, one of which required hospitalization.

Crane Collapses

Crane collapses are perhaps the most catastrophic type of crane accident, often resulting in multiple fatalities and severe property damage.

Crane collapses can occur for various reasons, including structural failure, overloading, operator error, or adverse weather conditions.

OSHA recorded an incident involving two employees disassembling a tower crane on April 27, 2019.

The crane collapsed and hit the top of a commercial building, killing the two workers.

The crane collapse also resulted in the death of two people in their vehicles and the hospitalization of three civilians.

Struck-by Accidents

Struck-by accidents occur when a moving crane or its load hits a worker.

A crane boom or jib can swing or shift suddenly, potentially striking workers and bystanders on the ground or in nearby structures.

Struck-by accidents are more common when crane operators do not follow proper safety protocols during crane operations.

On February 17, 2012, an assembly crew was preparing to assemble a crane boom.

Two crew members omitted a critical step in the assembly process, causing a section of the boom called the hammerhead to fall and strike an employee on the ground.

Electrocution Accidents

Electrocution is another common cause of crane accidents, especially when using mobile cranes.

In a typical scenario, the crane operator or workers get electrocuted by coming into contact with energized power lines.

OSHA recorded an electrocution accident involving a truck crane, where the crane operator accidentally hit an overhead power line as he positioned the crane boom.

He suffered a minor electrical shock, but another worker suffered a fatal electrocution injury.

Caught-In/Between Accidents

Another type of crane accident is a caught-in/between accident, in which a worker becomes trapped or crushed between the crane and other objects.

These accidents can occur during crane assembly, disassembly, or operation and often result from inadequate safety protocols or a lack of proper training.

On February 2, 2023, an employee standing on the platform of a mobile crane became caught between the crane’s arm and counterweights.

The employee’s upper body was crushed, resulting in fatal injuries.

Crane Crashes

While not as common as other crane accidents, crane crashes can still have severe consequences.

A crane crash occurs when a crane collides with another crane, a structure, or other objects, often resulting in property damage and injuries.

These accidents can happen due to equipment malfunction, operator error, or improper assembly.

Common Causes of Crane Accidents

The different types of crane accidents can happen for various reasons.

Some of the most common causes of crane accidents can include:

  • Mechanical Failures
  • Operator Error
  • Improper Setup
  • Overloading
  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Negligent maintenance and inspection
  • Contact with power lines
  • Failure to use a signal person
  • Inadequate or violation of safety protocols

Mechanical Failures

Mechanical failures are a leading cause of crane accidents.

Cranes are complex machines with many moving parts, and any malfunction or defect can result in an accident.

Wear and tear, along with faulty parts, can compromise the structural integrity of cranes, leading to catastrophic failures.

Mechanical failures can result from poor maintenance, inadequate inspections, or using old and outdated equipment.

Operator Error

Operator error is another common cause of crane accidents.

Operating a crane requires specialized training and expertise, and even small mistakes can have disastrous consequences.

Common operator errors include:

  • Misjudging the load weight
  • Failing to follow proper safety protocols
  • Not accounting for changing weather conditions

Inadequate training and errors in judgment can result in mishaps during crane operation, highlighting the importance of comprehensive training programs.

Improper Crane Setup

Incorrect assembly or placement of cranes, especially on unstable ground, increases the risk of accidents.

Cranes must be assembled correctly, using appropriate safety measures, and following manufacturer guidelines.

Failure to do so can result in structural failure, leading to crane collapses or overturned cranes.

Meticulous planning and execution during crane setup are essential for preventing accidents.


Exceeding a crane’s weight limit can strain its capacity, potentially causing structural damage or collapse.

Overloading puts excessive stress on the crane’s structural components, increasing the risk of equipment failure and accidents.

Correctly calculating and distributing load weights is crucial to prevent overloading.

Crane operators must always adhere to the crane’s load capacity and safety guidelines.

Adverse Weather Conditions

Adverse weather conditions, such as high winds, heavy rain, or snow, can significantly impact crane operations.

Strong winds can cause a crane boom to sway or shift unpredictably, making it challenging to control the load.

Heavy rain and snow can make the ground slippery and unstable, increasing the risk of accidents during crane setup or operation.

Adhering to strict safety protocols, regularly monitoring weather conditions, and focusing on proactive measures to mitigate risks can help prevent accidents caused by adverse weather.

Negligent Maintenance and Inspection

Regular maintenance and thorough inspections are crucial for identifying and addressing potential issues before they escalate into accidents.

Neglecting maintenance tasks or conducting inadequate inspections can result in malfunctioning equipment and increase the risk of crane accidents.

Following a strict maintenance schedule, regular safety checks, and immediately addressing potential issues are crucial for preventing accidents.

Contact With Power Lines

Failure to maintain a safe distance from energized power lines can result in electrocution accidents.

Power lines are often overlooked or underestimated, especially when working at great heights.

Crane operators and workers must follow strict safety protocols to prevent contact with overhead power lines.

Failure To Use a Signal Person

Clear communication and coordination between crane operators and signal persons are essential for ensuring safe operations on construction sites.

The failure to use a dedicated signal person or miscommunications between the operator and signaling personnel can lead to accidents.

Proper communication is crucial for preventing mishaps during critical tasks, such as lifting and moving loads.

Inadequate or Violation of Safety Protocols

Failure to adhere to safety protocols can have severe consequences on construction sites.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific guidelines for crane operations, including proper training, safety procedures, and equipment maintenance.

Inadequate compliance with these regulations or cutting corners to save time can result in preventable accidents.

Severity and Frequency of Crane Accidents

Regulatory bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are pivotal in regulating crane safety and accident prevention.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) also release regular safety standards and guidelines for crane operations, maintenance, and inspections.

Crane accidents occur despite stringent regulations, resulting in injuries, fatalities, and property damage.

The severity of crane accidents depends on the type of accident and its impact on workers and the surrounding area.

The frequency of these accidents stresses the gravity of these incidents, emphasizing the urgent need for enhanced safety measures and heightened vigilance in the construction industry.

Regular safety training, strict adherence to safety protocols, and frequent equipment maintenance are crucial for reducing the frequency and severity of crane accidents.

Proper risk assessment and proactive measures can help prevent these often-devastating incidents, promoting worker safety and productivity on construction sites.

Severe Outcomes of Crane Accidents

Crane accidents can have severe consequences for construction workers, bystanders, occupants of nearby buildings, and the families of victims.

Some of the most common outcomes of crane accidents can include:

  • Physical injuries and fatalities
  • Property damage
  • Disruptions to construction projects
  • Long-term impact on victims and their families

Physical Injuries and Fatalities

Crane accidents can cause a range of injuries.

Common crane accident injuries can include:

  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Crush injuries
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Lacerations and puncture wounds
  • Electrocution

Crane accidents can result in fatalities in worst case scenarios, leaving families devastated and construction projects derailed.

Property Damage

Crane collapses or accidents can cause significant property damage to structures, vehicles, and equipment.

These incidents can result in costly repairs, delays, and legal disputes.

The financial strain for property owners and developers can impact their business and livelihood.

This issue can have a ripple effect on construction workers, the economy, and the construction industry as a whole.

Disruptions to Construction Projects

The aftermath of crane accidents often leads to delays and disruptions in construction projects, impacting timelines, budgets, and overall project viability.

These incidents can halt construction activities, leading to financial losses and potential legal action.

Accidents can also damage a company’s reputation, making it challenging to secure future projects.

Long-Term Impact on Victims and Their Families

Crane accidents not only have an immediate impact on victims but can also have long-term consequences for their physical and mental well-being.

Survivors of crane accidents may face a lengthy recovery process, including physical rehabilitation, mental health treatment, and loss of income due to the inability to work.

The families of victims may struggle emotionally and financially in the aftermath of these incidents, particularly in cases of crane deaths.

These tragedies can have a lasting impact on the families of victims, requiring support and resources to cope with their loss and financial hardship.

Legal Implications

Victims and their families may pursue legal action against responsible parties such as construction companies, crane operators, or equipment manufacturers in the aftermath of a crane accident.

Pursuing a crane accident case can help them recover damages resulting from the accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

In some cases of gross negligence or intentional harm, victims may also be entitled to punitive damages.

Filing lawsuits for crane accidents and pursuing wrongful death claims require expertise and guidance from experienced attorneys specializing in construction accidents and workplace safety.

While each injury claim is unique, the general process of seeking compensation for crane accidents involves multiple steps.

These steps include:

  • Investigating to determine the cause of the accident
  • Collecting evidence, including eyewitness accounts and documented safety protocols
  • Identifying responsible parties and their liability in the incident
  • Calculating damages incurred by victims and their families
  • Negotiating with insurance companies and attorneys representing responsible parties
  • Pursuing litigation if necessary to obtain just compensation for victims and their families

Establishing someone else’s negligence and securing just compensation can be lengthy and challenging, requiring expert legal counsel for the optimal outcome of these cases.

TorHoerman Law: Experienced Crane Accident Attorneys

The consequences of crane accidents are often severe and far-reaching, making it crucial to hold responsible parties accountable for their actions or negligence.

At TorHoerman Law, our experienced personal injury attorneys work tirelessly to secure just compensation for victims of crane accidents and their families.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a crane accident, TorHoerman Law will fight for your rights and advocate for your best interests.

Contact us for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a crane accident lawsuit instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do crane accidents commonly occur on construction sites?

    Crane accidents on construction sites commonly occur due to factors like crane collapses, operator error, mechanical failure, or contact with power lines.

    Overhead power line strikes, unstable ground conditions, and improper crane setup or dismantling can lead to serious or fatal crane injuries.

    Crane operators and other workers must adhere to strict safety protocols, including OSHA standards, to prevent such accidents.

  • What are typical injuries from crane accidents on construction sites?

    Common crane accident injuries on construction sites include catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and sometimes fatal injuries, especially if a crane collapse or object falling from the crane occurs.

    Injuries can be severe due to the crane’s height and the heavy loads they carry, leading to significant medical expenses and the need for long-term care.

  • How can attorneys assist victims or families affected by crane accidents?

    Personal injury attorneys can assist victims or families affected by crane accidents by conducting a thorough investigation of the accident, identifying responsible parties, and filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

    They seek financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, navigating legal complexities to hold negligent parties accountable, such as crane operators, construction companies, or equipment manufacturers.

  • What steps should be taken following a crane accident on a construction site?

    Following a crane accident on a construction site, it’s crucial to secure the scene, provide immediate medical assistance to the injured, and report the incident to relevant authorities.

    An investigation should be conducted to determine the cause of the accident, involving safety officials and, if necessary, crane maintenance providers.

    Victims should also seek legal counsel to explore their compensation and workers’ compensation benefits options.

  • How is liability determined in crane accident cases on construction sites?

    Liability in crane accident cases on construction sites is determined by examining the roles of crane operators, construction companies, equipment manufacturers, and any other involved parties.

    Factors such as compliance with safety regulations, crane operation training, and equipment maintenance records are evaluated.

    Personal injury attorneys play a crucial role in proving negligence or violation of occupational safety standards that led to the accident, helping victims or their families recover damages.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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