No one knows the danger involved with working at construction site more so than the men and women who work at these jobs every day. Working on scaffolding, operating heavy machinery and using hazardous chemicals to construct our nation’s buildings is very dangerous; construction site accidents claim thousands of lives each year. Crane accidents, specifically, account for several deaths each year; these multiple-ton pieces of equipment, when used improperly or when they fail in some way, often lead to catastrophic crush injuries and death.
Penn State Crane Fatality
Jerod Chapman’s family was awarded a settlement of $6.5 million on September 11 in the case of Chipps v Maxim Crane Works, filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The parties settled the case during mediation before retired Judge James Melinson. Mr. Chapman, 29, was fatally crushed when a crane jib fell on him and crushed him; the crane jib weighed over 2,500 pounds. The day he was killed, Chapman had been working on a building on Penn State’s campus, and he had been helping a crane operator employed by Maxim Crane Works to dismantle the boom and jib to store it; during the dismantling process, the jib fell on Chapman’s head, crushing and killing him instantly.
According to the plaintiff’s argument, the crane fell because the crane operator told workers to remove pins connecting the jib to the crane’s main boom before the jib had been safely and completely secured. The plaintiff’s side claimed the operator had the responsibility to ensure the safety of the site, and noted that in 2010, after a “rash of jib incidents, the company established new policies saying crane operators needed to be fully aware of the safe work practices and always aware of employees they were supervising.” The plaintiff’s legal team asserted that the policy failed to require crane operators visually confirm that jibs are secured before taking out the pins.
Wrongful death awards are based on a number of factors including how and to what extent the deceased plaintiff’s death will affect other people in the family. Chapman’s family’s legal team said the possible recovery in this crane crush wrongful death claim would be somewhat limited, due to the fact that his death occurred quickly and because Chapman did not have any children. Chapman was engaged to a woman with a daughter with whom he was close, but he had no biological children at the time of his death.
Crane Accident Statistics
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported that between 2011 and 2015, there were a total of 220 crane-related deaths (an average of 44 per year for that period). Of those 220 deaths, 217 were men and 74% of those deaths were White, non-Hispanic workers. During that same five-year period, Texas saw the most crane-related fatalities with 40; Illinois, 12; Florida 11; California and Pennsylvania, both 10.
According to the report, a little over half of all fatal crane injuries during that same period involved a worker being struck by an object or equipment, and over three-fifths of the cases involved a worker being struck by falling object or equipment, and in most of those cases, the falling object was from a crane.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction accident, talk to an experienced accident law firm in your area.