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Crane Safety

Tom Barth has dedicated his life to crane safety. A crane operator, inspector, trainer and accident investigator with 38 years in the industry, Tom is committed to helping operators and companies make their workplace safer. With his background in tower cranes, crawlers, truck cranes, harbor cranes and more, and working in some of the harshest conditions on the planet, he brings a unique combination of knowledge, skills and dedication to the field of crane safety.


Accident Investigation
Accident Reconstruction
Expert Testimony
Crane Inspections
Tower Crane Inspections


Crane Operator Training
Safety Inspections
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2004 Crane Mishaps

Click the photos below to enlarge!


(Chicopee) - A large crane on the construction site of the $7.47 million new Deady Bridge tipped onto its side late yesterday morning, but the operator managed to scramble to safety. The operator, who was not identified, told authorities he was on top of a cliff by the Chicopee River when the crane tipped on its own. More than 10 gallons of diesel fuel leaked, and the Department of Environmental Protection was called to the scene as required when more than 10 gallons of fuel spilled. Chicopee firefighters set up a catch basin to contain the fuel, and none leaked into the river, according to Fire Department Capt. James P. McInerney. Crane crews were being contacted to upright the crane yesterday. Work is continuing throughout the winter on the five-lane span, part of a $10 million state project. An estimated 25,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily, and motorists are using a temporary two-lane span on Montgomery Street (Route 141) linking Memorial Drive with Broadway in Chicopee Falls.


I righted the crane (I picked) along with Springfield steel erectors (they caught) and Lussier Rigging of Chicopee (the accident happened in their driveway! Talk about work falling at your doorstep.) The company who was in charge of the bridge project was J F White of Boston. The crane that tipped over was their Mantis 65 Tonner (downgraded to a 50??) with a telescoping boom. The accident occurred with the machine on its first pick or its first day of working on the site. The operator had been running a R/T crane of similar size for about a month. The company switched out cranes to the mantis, and the operator claimed he could run it. The accident occurred when he picked his first load which was a 3000 lb pallet and fully extended the boom at about a 45 degree or lower angle. The operator then said the crane began tipping in slow motion and just gradually tipped at a slow rate. He remained in the cab and didn’t abandon ship until the boom bottomed out. You will see how lucky the guy is to be unharmed. The accident occurred because the union operator did not expand the tracks before his first pick (which kind of makes you wonder about how much experience the guy had with a traction crane chassis.) The crane was resting on a 50 degree angle down a hill (the upper at the top of the hill) roughly 30 from the tip being in the water and about 15-20 feet from the base of the bridge. The operator is so lucky he didn’t hit the bridge itself and kill a passing motorist. To make the area more complicated, there where electrical lines that had to be shielded behind the crane about 12 feet behind and 30 feet up.

To right the crane, the tip section of the boom was cut to free the load. The bridge was then completely closed by the police and I set up on the bridge (a Tm865E Grove) and picked the tip of the boom section that was still there. The 85 Ton conventional crane from Springfield Steel then set up to catch the crane next to the electrical lines. The turret of the crane was then chained to itself to prevent swing when the pick was happening. When I picked the tip, I only took about 7000lb before the counterweights of the mantis took over and righted the crane under the control of the conventional crane. Credit for the rigging and the hypothesis that a 65 ton crane could pick the tip goes to Roger Lussier, owner of Lussier Rigging. Roger even predicted the weight to within 500lbs. Chris Bolduc - Aero Crane - East Hartford, CT

Trying to save money...

We are not sure if this last picture (above) is a real photograph or if it was manipulated, however this CAN happen, so be aware!

The Crane That Couldn't Stay On Track...

This is just one reason you don't pick over the front without a fifth outrigger.

Another investigation of an offsite crane rollover.

Crane Rollover 2 Years Ago. No Injuries Or Property Damage, Other Than The Crane.

Offsite consulting accident investigation crane failure photos.

Not only was the employee not certified as a crane operator or even a rigger, No controls were marked and the load chart was unreadable. Several other equipment violations with rigging, maintenance and a bent boom. Common sense stuff.

TRAINING TRAINING TRAINING would have prevented this accident.

Power Lines Kill

Stay away from power lines - they kill!

Iron Worker

As can be seen in the picture the crane operator is not in the crane, He's up in the steel bolting. Now what is he, a Crane Operator or an Iron worker?

Tower Take Down - Crane Crash

Subject: FW: Cernavoda U2 generator stator: a lift goes wrong Cernavoda U2 generator stator now resting on the bottom of Hudson river.

We are still shocked about what happened but will try to describe as accurately as possible the accident.

Today December 9, around 10:30 a.m. ( local time) we went to Albany port in order to witness the Stator assembly loading as well as checking that all crates mentioned into the Shipment Definition List. The stator assembly was on the rail car and the port team was installing the trunnions.

Around one o'clock p.m. the rail car was brought close to the vessel for loading. In the vessel was already loaded another generator for ENEL Italy. As a matter a fact when discussed with the crew leader to understand the route (first to Constanta and then to Italy) he mentioned that in order to allow a proper balancing when downloading it have to go first to Constanta.

This fact began to have a real meaning to us after what happened. Around 2 p.m. the loading preparation did start. After the slings were hooked to the trunnions to started the lifting process. After some time we have noticed that the process is very slow. Did ask the crew leader what is the reason and he mentioned that due to the vessel crane configuration (leaning beyond the vessel boundary) the vessel has to be counter balanced by flooding some compartments, and this takes time.

As you can see from the attached pictures # 224 and 226 the time between downloading start and real lifting from the rail car is more than 1 hour. This I believe gives a clear picture on the process difficulty. Before starting the lifting during the balancing process we noticed that the vessel was leaning towards the shore, as a consequence of the distance between the vessel axis and the generator one.

After starting the lift the vessel begun to come slowly to its horizontal position and reach this status when the stator assembly was almost clearing the rail car (see pict. 228). From this point the stator was lifted up (approx 2m) for vessel trunk loading. We think that the maneuvering speed was much higher than before. Personally we were expecting to be somehow closer to the previous one.

Immediately after the stator was clearing the dock the vessel starts leaning the opposite side towards the Hudson river and in couple of seconds flipped over and pulled very fast by the stator weight. We were afraid that the vessel would sink completely into the river. It was not like that, but still there are three missing persons from the crew and some others hospitalized with hypothermia. Beside that the surveyor hired by GE to witness the activity who was on the vessel during the accident to take pictures is now in the hospital too.

Below are some data to make the picture clearer.

The vessel STELLAMARE : - Is 88m long and approx 7m deep. It was built in 1982. No data for the loading capacity. - Was navigating under Dutch flag and the crew was Russian - Is the smallest from the vessels operated by JUMBO SHIPPING Netherlands - Is considered small port capability vessel (meaning can fit into a small port) - The two vessel cranes are able to handle maximum 180t each.

The 289-foot Stellamare, flagged in the Dutch Antilles, had loaded 661 tons of General Electric steel turbines bound for Italy and Romania, Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings said. The ship tipped over as a 308-ton generator was being loaded around 3:10 p.m. Tuesday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Eight members of the 18-person crew were removed from the river, Miller said. Seven others were rescued from the ship, some by helicopter. One crew member was upgraded to serious condition, and another to fair condition, at Albany Medical Center, hospital officials said. One man was treated and released.

Three crew members remained missing after the cargo ship listed and partially sank at the Port of Albany at about 3 p.m. Tuesday. The accident involving the Stellamare tossed several men into the icy waters of the Hudson River and prompted the Coast Guard to close the river, left the ship tilted at a 50-degree angle, and may have killed three seamen.

The ship's 18-man crew was loading the second of two General Electric generators, each weighing roughly 250 tons, when the boat listed to port, rolled and became partially submerged in about 30 feet of water. Several crewmen had to be pulled from the frigid river.

"When they picked up the piece and started to move it over the hatch, the ship started to lean and it got away from them," said Paul Fisher, a retired foreman with the port's longshoremen's crew who said he spoke with a dozen of his former colleagues after the accident. "Somebody screwed up." Fisher said longshoremen often operate the cranes aboard ship, but never on the Stellamare, which typically has a highly regarded crew skilled with the cranes.

On Tuesday, two Stellamare crane operators were working the shipboard cranes in tandem, coordinated by a chief officer or captain via radio, he said. Longshoremen were aboard the ship to observe the lift, but did not direct it or operate the cranes, he said. "When you work by sight, hand signals are universal and everyone understands them," Fisher said. "The radio must have caused the communication breakdown."

Generators loaded onto the ship are usually placed on a metal holding platform, then welded into place to prevent shifting, said Deacon Dick Walker of the Albany Maritime Ministry. The boat, bound for Italy and Romania, was already holding 600 tons of cargo when it started taking on water, said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. The Stellamare is owned by Jumbo Shipping Co., a worldwide shipping company.

Eyewitnesses recount ship's silent roll

Carson Rock, a ship's cook from Barbados, dashed on deck of the Columbia as the adjacent Stellamare tilted dangerously low toward the Hudson River, at the Port of Albany. He'd sailed the world for 28 years, but he'd never seen anything like this.

Seventy-five yards away, two of the Stellamare's cranes had lifted what looked to Rock like an engine, the size of a railroad car, over the middle of the ship.

When it got to the center, said crew members on the Columbia, a 330-foot channel dredger docked just south, the 289-foot Stellamare began to roll slowly, almost silently, and turn away from the dock, sinking on its side in the ice-choked waters of the Hudson River.

The capsizing cargo ship flung one man operating the crane into the water. He wore a heavy orange jacket, but no flotation vest, crew mates said. As the man gripped a chunk of wood in the river, the crane operator clung to Stellamare's hull.

With one man in the water and one clinging to the hull, the Columbia's crew raced into action. Capt. Stephen Taylor called the tug Rhea I. Bouchard, docked about 400 yards south, across the Hudson. Mones, a mate from New Orleans, and another man grabbed a litter used to retrieve men who fall overboard. Others leapt from their own ship onto the docks and headed for the Stellamare. Anyone trapped in the 32 water wouldn't have much time.

"I don't think they had the ballast set right," said Ron Cross, a welder and independent contractor who'd helped detach the two giant General Electric generators from a rail car that afternoon.

One generator was in the hold when he ship rolled, Cross said. The other, slightly heavier unit was on the ship's crane. The ship was big enough to handle the cargo, he added, "but it's the smallest ship I've seen here for a (load) that big."

Authorities will resume their search for three missing crew members after a Dutch cargo ship turned partly on its side on the Hudson River while steel turbines were being loaded. Fifteen others were rescued, with some suffering hypothermia.

Officials also said that weight limits didn't appear to be exceeded, so another big part of this operation is trying to find out exactly what went wrong.

Myself and several other crane drivers operate a 1974 Hitachi Model # 73-35603 overhead 55st container crane. Job description is loading and unloading containers onto and off of yard semi-trucks. This particular crane has a badly misaligned trolley rail at the boom joint, Approx. 1/16+ drop from boom side joint to landside. The crane cab has four wheels that run on the rails, in addition there are four thruster wheels that stop the cab from moving side to side, these thruster wheels are set more of a vertical fashion and roll against a side type of rail for stability. My question would be is it safe to operate the container crane with the back right thruster wheel missing for over a year. I have concerns as the misaligned boom joint causes severe jarring when 30 ,40 tons are constantly being handled. rail clamps continually loosen at the boom joint. We have had instances where a rail clamp or two has broken. Rail clamps are spaced about every 18 to 24 inches. By the way the thruster wheel fell onto the deck of a container ship, like I stated previously this was over a year ago and has not been replaced. A OSHA approved Surveyor from . Inspected the crane and issued a report saying the item does not cause a detriment to the crane. However to his defense, he did not know the wheel had been missing for over a year. Name withheld.

Early on the morning of Sunday 1st February, around 9am,a Wolff WK122SL tower crane partially collapsed. Fortunately the site was unoccupied at the time and nobody was injured but the results would have been catastrophic had the crane fallen onto a nearby suburban railway line or onto houses which are nearby.60 residents had to be evacuated as a safety measure and the railway line was closed creating commuter chaos It is believed that high winds caused the tower crane’s jib to bend and snap, almost completely crushing the operator’s cab as it fell towards the ground. A single pendant connected both to the tower’s main mast and jib did, however, remain intact preventing the entire jib length from crashing down onto the job-site Why the crane collapsed focuses on the cranes slew brake. Typically, such cranes are left with free slew to allow the jib to rotate away form the prevailing wind and thus not catch its full force. Unconfirmed reports claimed that the brake had either been left on, or had somehow applied itself or jammed, thus preventing free slew and subjecting the jib to extreme side winds Recovery was almost ready to commence on Sunday evening, but then the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stopped all activity as high winds had come in. These winds did not drop until Friday, but to allow the railway line to reopen, and the evacuated residents back to their homes, the cranes ballast was removed and the main jib secured using a mobile crane on Tuesday evening. On Friday, the jib and the cranes cab were removed, the parts subjected to a full inspection. An official reason is yet to be given and may never be released to the general media, as currently there are over 100 tower cranes at work in Dublin and the public don't want to think that every one of them could fall over!

Ed Fahey

Click here to view pictures of this accident.

I received this picture from a friend of mine deployed in Afghanistan. I don't have any details of the accident suffice to say that the crane is NOT Canadian.

The following photos are from a Demag HC 1010 which is a 440 U.S. Tons Hydraulic Boom Crane. According to the operator, he said "he did not think he was out of the chart." He said "the crane was not out of the chart because the outriggers just started to come off of the ground but, it had not started getting light and this crane is real strong!" (He was working over the front of the crane when the outriggers were coming of the ground!)

When asked how much was the crane's capacity, he said "440 Tons." When asked he how much was the crane's capacity at that radius, he said "whatever the computer said." Later on when asked what the computer said the crane's capacity was at the time of the accident, he said "the computer had not worked in over a year."

Some photo's of a Tadano TL200M which went over here in South Africa. The operator ignored the warning buzzer on the computer and the banksman. The main damage was to the roof of the building. We got the crane back on it's wheels by using a Tadano TL500M and a Tadano TL300M. Enjoy and learn.

Jeremy in Cape Town South Africa.

It has been reported that this is the second crane this crane company tipped over in less then a month.

The other crane fell on a Shopping mall.

Lucky no-one was hurt in either of the tip-overs.

Outriggers, Outriggers, Outriggers.

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