Crane Accident Kills One Worker, Injures Another

One worker was killed and another seriously injured in a crane accident after both fell off the West Seattle Bridge in Washington state.crane

The Seattle Times reports a passing truck driver struck the boom lift, later insisting he didn’t see any traffic control markings, such as cones, barriers or a flagger in the moments before the crash.

The two men were reportedly contractors, which can sometimes muddy the question of workers’ compensation benefits. Independent contractors are generally not eligible for benefits from the general contractor, but it will depend on the agreement between the two entities and which company purchased benefits. If another contractor or the general contractor was responsible for establishing proper traffic controls on this site, it’s entirely possible too that the victims/ surviving family could additionally pursue a third-party action for negligence, which could further increase the compensation to which they are entitled. A second action might be plausible against the truck driver/ employer, a mushroom farm delivery driver. 

News reports of this incident are that the 40-year-old decedent fell approximately 50 feet, landing on the roadway underneath the bridge deck, according to police. He was transported to the hospital and later died. The second worker, a 57-year-old man, fell approximately 15 feet. He had to undergo surgery, but was in satisfactory condition as of the report.

Police investigators will still trying to ascertain whether the box truck hit the elevated basket itself or the arm of the basket. The truck driver underwent a series of field sobriety tests at the scene, which is routine when there is a fatal traffic accident, and police have not given any indication that intoxication is believed to have been a factor.

A spokeswoman for the mushroom farm said the driver saw no traffic control devices and has a track record as a very safe driver. She insisted the company prides itself on safety and regularly holds driver training sessions.

The two construction workers in this case worked for a contractor responsible for installing rods and other equipment that keep the bridge from cracking and crumbling in the event of an earthquake.

Investigators with the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) will be looking carefully at whether proper traffic control devices were in place and also whether the two workers were abiding all relevant safety precautions. OSHA’s guidelines for Uniform Traffic Control Devices covers temporary traffic control elements, which include having a traffic control plan and staging:

  • An advance warning area
  • A transition area
  • An activity area
  • A termination area

There will also be an analysis of whether the crane was properly positioned. Crane accidents are a serious problem in the construction industry, often leading to severe and fatal work-related injuries. OSHA updated its cranes and derricks guidelines in 2010, which became fully effective in August 2014. The measure was expected to prevent 22 deaths and 175 injuries annually.

Among the updated criteria:

  • Employers must comply with local/ state operator licensing requirements;
  • Employers have to pay for certification or qualification of currently unlicensed or unqualified operators;
  • Written certification tests have to be offered in a language understood by the worker;
  • Abide new regulations for assembly/ disassembly.

If you are injured in a North Carolina crane accident, we can help.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

One worker killed, another injured in fall after trunk hits boom lift on bridge, July 2, 2015, By Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times

More Blog Entries:

Long v. Injured Workers’ Ins. Fund – Calculating Average Weekly Wage of Self Employers for Workers’ Comp., July 7, 2016, Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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