A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Despite Dallas Storm's Deadly Accident, Fatal Crane Accidents Are Rare in United States

In the wake of a terrible summer storm that ripped through Dallas this past weekend, investigators are looking into exactly what conditions were like in the area where a construction crane collapsed killing one person and injuring five others.

Despite the fact that the storm included wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour, crane safety experts say it is unwise to jump to conclusions. That's primarily because construction cranes are designed to withstand much higher winds. 

"There are still a lot of questions to ask now," said James Pritchett of Crane Experts International. Today’s construction cranes have a computer onboard that should tell investigators a lot about the conditions at that moment, he said. 

The kind of giant construction cranes we’re talking about here are designed to withstand winds up to 140 miles per hour, said Tom Barth, the other of Barth Crane Inspections. Both he and Pritchett spoke to weather.com.

One defense mechanism involves releasing the brake that allows them to swing with the wind instead of trying to stand against it. It's a practice called "weathervaning.” 

The folks at weather.com also noted that:

Fatal crane accidents are rare, but not unheard of. There were 16 fatal injuries related to cranes in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There was an average of 44 deaths per year over a five-year span from 2011 to 2015, the bureau reported.

In that same five-year span, Texas had 40 fatal occupational injuries due to cranes — almost as many as the next four states combined, according to BLS. The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is targeting Texas with increased safety inspections in an effort to reduce serious and fatal injuries, according to KTVT.