Crane Collapse Accidents - Info, Statistics, Lawsuits, Settlements

Updated on: 4/30/2019

In This Article: Accident Statistics; Recent AccidentsCompaniesCrane ConstructionJob Titles & SalariesTower Crane PartsCrane Accident LawsuitsCrane Professional Associations  

crane accident in Seattle
                             Photo Credit: Associated Press

Construction Cranes In Seattle

According to a January 2019 report by surveyors from Rider Levett Bucknall who count cranes in major cities every six months, Seattle has 59 cranes (including the one that feel).  That number is down from 65 cranes last summer in July of 2018.  


Crane Accident Statistics

From 2011 to 2015, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported 220 total crane-related deaths, an average of 44 per year over this 5-year period. Men accounted for 217 of the 220 fatal injuries involving cranes. 

According to an article appearing in the September 2009 issue of International Cranes Magazine, between 2000 and 2010 26% of serious or fatal crane accidents happen during the erection or dismantling of the crane. The primary cause for these failures is the failure of workers to properly follow manufacturer instructions. The article stated that only 10% of crane accidents are due to weather conditions.   And over 25% of deaths and injuries were suffered by non-construction personnel.

According to the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), 323 construction workers died in crane accidents between 1992 and 2006. Of those, 32 percent were caused by electrocution due to contact with overhead power lines, 21 percent were due to cranes collapsing, and 18 percent were caused by a crane boom striking a construction worker.    


Recent Crane Collapses 

  • January 2019 - Yueyang, China - Four people were struck directly by the falling crane tower and jib, two of them died at the scene, while a further two died shortly after they arrived at the hospital.
  • November 2018 - London, UK - Spierings mobile self erecting tower crane broke free and dropped onto the job site.  No injuries.
  • September 2018 - Melbourne, Australia - Two injured after a tower crane suddenly dropped its load.  
  • July 2018 - Heidelberg, Germany - Outriggers slipped off of a beam causing the tower crane to overturn.
  • July 2018 - Melbourne, Australia - Improperly secured tower crane knocked over by high winds.  
  • June 2018 - Schinznach-Bad, Switzerland - Crane drops onto passing train.    ‚Äč

Crane Accident Lawsuits & Settlements

Recent crane accident settlements and jury verdicts from across the United States:

  • December 2018 - $20.9 million dollar verdict for an ironworker whose arm was severed by a 550-lb. steel beam falling from a crane on a construction site.
  • September 2018 -  Texas jury returned $44 million verdict in a wrongful death crane accident lawsuit against B&G Crane.  
  • October 2017 - $19.5 million settlement was reached in New Jersey after a masonry company truck driver was paralyzed by a falling crane.
  • Summer 2017 - $8.8 million dollar verdict for New Jersey man injured by falling crane.
  • 2010 - Jury verdict of  $1.72 million for victim of BP crane accident.  
  • September 2018 - Family of fatal crane accident victim receives $6.5M settlement.

Companies Involved In Seattle Crane Accident

The companies responsible for the construction site include:


Crane Construction 101

Cranes can be either owned or leased.  One of the biggest hazards is cranes operated by unqualified crane operators on multi-employer worksites.  To minimize the cost of crane use, construction companies may rent a crane with an operator provided by the rental company, rent only the equipment because the general contractor already has an operator on staff, or they may hire a short-term employee or a contractor separately to operate the crane.

Most construction companies rent tower cranes from a crane vendor. The crane vendor ships the crane to the site, assembles it; charges a monthly fee while the crane is on the site; and handles the dismantling and removal of the crane. 

Crane-Related Job Titles & Salaries

There are a number of jobs associated with crane operation.  Those job include:

  • Tower Crane Operator
  • Crane Rigger
  • Ground Control Operator & Loader
  • Tower Crane Yard Technician
  • Tower Crane Manager
  • Tower Crane Foreman

On April 28, 2019 the following were listed as typical crane operator salaries by various recruiting websites:

  • $56k (PayScale.com)
  • $41.5k - 63k (Salary.com)
  • $28.1k (trainee) - $72k (ZipRecruiter.com) 

Parts of a Tower Crane

All tower cranes consist of the following basic parts:

  • Base / Pad - The crane is anchor bolted to a large concrete pad that is the basic support of the crane. Connects to the mast / tower.
  • Mast / Tower - Gives the tower crane its height.
  • Slewing Unit - The gear and motor that is attached to the top of the mast and which allows the crane to rotate.
  • Jib / Working Arm - The long horizontal portion of the crane that carries the load.
  • Trolley - Runs along the jib to move the load in and out from the center of the crane.
  • Machinery Arm - The shorter horizontal arm which contains the crane's motors, electronics and cable drum which lift the loads.
  • Counter Weights - Large concrete weights hanging on machinery arm.
  • Operators Cab – The ‘drivers seat’ of the crane operator. 

Crane Professional Associations & Governing Organizations

  • National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO)
  • Crane Manufacturers Association of America, Inc.
  • Crane Owner's Association (COA)
  • Crane Certification Association of America (CCAA)
  • Association of Crane and Rigging Professionals (ACRP)
  • Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SC&RA)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • American National Standard Institute (ANSI)
  • OSHA’s Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC)
  • Small Business Advocacy Review Panel (SBAR)
  • International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE)
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)
  • National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO)
  • Operating Engineers Certification Program (OECP)
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