Deadly Crane Accident in Houston, Texas

by | May 17, 2024 | Construction Accident, Wrongful Death

There was a deadly crane accident in Houston, Texas on May 16, 2024.  According to reports, a large crane fell onto a cement truck at a worksite.  One person sitting in the cement truck was killed as a result.  The incident occurred at a worksite on Wingate near 75th Street.  At the time, severe weather was in the area, with significant winds.  The incident remains under investigation.

Cranes are essential pieces of equipment on construction sites, but they also pose significant risks, particularly during severe weather. High winds can create hazardous conditions for cranes, increasing the likelihood of accidents and structural failures. One of the primary concerns with cranes in severe winds is the potential for the wind to destabilize the crane, causing it to sway or even tip over. The large surface area of the crane’s boom can act like a sail, catching the wind and exerting tremendous force on the structure, potentially leading to catastrophic failures.

Severe winds can also put enormous stress on the crane’s boom, which is the long, extendable arm used to lift and move heavy materials. The boom is designed to handle specific loads under controlled conditions, but high winds can exert unpredictable forces that exceed the boom’s capacity. This can result in the boom bending, snapping, or collapsing entirely. If a boom snaps, it can cause significant damage to the crane itself and pose a serious risk to workers and equipment on the ground, potentially leading to injuries, fatalities, and extensive property damage.

Another critical risk during severe winds is the potential for the crane’s load to swing uncontrollably. When a crane is lifting or holding a heavy load, high winds can cause the load to oscillate, creating a pendulum effect. This uncontrolled movement can destabilize the crane, increase the risk of the load falling, and make it challenging for the operator to maintain control. A swinging load can collide with nearby structures, machinery, or personnel, causing severe accidents and injuries. Moreover, the dynamic forces generated by the swinging load can exacerbate the stress on the crane’s components, increasing the likelihood of mechanical failures.

Proper precautions and safety measures are essential to mitigate the risks associated with operating cranes during severe weather. Construction sites should have comprehensive wind action plans in place, including procedures for securing cranes and ceasing operations when wind speeds exceed safe limits. Regular inspections and maintenance of crane components are crucial to ensure they can withstand adverse conditions. Additionally, operators should receive thorough training on how to respond to severe weather scenarios, including safely lowering loads and securing the crane to prevent accidents. By taking these proactive steps, construction sites can enhance safety and reduce the likelihood of crane-related incidents during severe winds.

There have been a number of recent incidents involving cranes.  A crane collapsed at the Venture Global LNG construction project in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana on April 16, 2024.  A crane collapsed during construction at the Las Vegas Convention Center on April 24, 2024.  There was a crane accident in Braintree, Massachusetts on May 1, 2024.

Companies, supervisors, and workers may not be fully aware of the hazards of operating cranes.  As a result, they may not have implemented proper policies and procedures to minimize risks.  One mechanism to safely evaluate and prepare for risks is through the use of a Job Safety Analysis (“JSA”) or Risk Assessment, which is standard in the industry.  When this does not occur, it can result in catastrophic personal injury or death.  In a JSA, each step of the job is examined to identify potential hazards and to recommend the safest way to perform the work in order to minimize those risks.  According to OSHA:

A job hazard analysis is a technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards before they occur. It focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment. Ideally, after you identify uncontrolled hazards, you will take steps to eliminate or reduce them to an acceptable risk level.

Our experienced lawyers have handled personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits of all kinds and have the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured as a result of a crane accident. The experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an accident involving a crane.

Our lawyers have represented numerous workers who have sustained serious and catastrophic injuries on a job site as a result of the negligence of another party.  Our experienced attorneys have previously been involved in numerous lawsuits involving cranes.  There are strict and short time limits on making claims, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.