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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.


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2006 Crane Mishaps

Click the photos below to enlarge!

Heavy winds folded a construction crane over a building. The ball of the crane landed on the jail next door. When in doubt, Don't Whip it out!

On land or water you have to stay in the load chart. See the results of not staying in the load chart on water.

This accident happened when the operator was on a cell phone and operating in override mode on the computer. After the accident the crane operator was told to leave his cell phone in his car, and he had to keep his headset on all the time to keep in touch with the signal people and to keep his cab clean. This was too much for him and he quit and found another job in two days. Doesn't management know how much stress they put on this crane operator expecting him to do the right thing?

A brand new crane was to remove a cap off the coker unit. Lucky no-one was hurt, but someone lost their pride as a crane operator.

Images courtesy of

Yes, you are seeing this correctly; the crane truck IS driving along a road with the boom raised; and YES, that is a load of roof trusses swinging on the hook!

Crane operator may get 30 years in prison for running a defective crane without a load chart, and a home made boom. Look at the boom.

Only in South Carolina would a contractor use a home-made jib on a school project while the children are in the classroom.

Two accidents for one crane. The first accident happened because of the wrong function of the limit switch of the boom angle. Middle jib was broken in the welded part joint. After the construction of the middle jib for not obeying the static rules & using the alloy with inferior quality the second accident happened.

By: Hossein Nowruz Fashkhami
(Safety Engineer)

A Must Read If You Are Taking Short Cuts

Article published Friday, April 7, 2006

Fru-Con has paid $11.25M in crane-collapse deaths


Fru-Con Construction Corp. paid a total of $11.25 million in wrongful death claims, attorney fees, and other expenses to the families of three of four ironworkers killed in the 2004 collapse of a truss crane used to build the new I-280 bridge.

The settlements by Fru-Con, the Ballwin, Mo.-based contractor for the $220 million Veterans' Glass City Skyway, were paid last year to the estates of Mike Phillips, 42; Arden Clark II, 47; and Robert Lipinski, Jr., 44, in Lucas County Probate Court.

The agreements were sealed by Judge Jack Puffenberger, who made the records public yesterday in redacted form in response to a request by The Blade under the Ohio Public Records Act.

The estate of the fourth victim, Michigan resident Mike Moreau, 30, was filed in Monroe County, where the probate record likewise was sealed last year after a settlement was reached.

Kevin Boissoneault, the attorney in that case, has declined to make the information available and The Blade is reviewing Michigan law.

The settlements were among the costs that have been paid by Fru-Con in connection with the Feb. 16, 2004, collapse of the truss crane - the region's worst construction accident in decades - which resulted in the deaths of four ironworkers and injuries to four other workers.

The crane collapsed while oving into position over a fu- ture bridge curve at the skyway project. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration later faulted Fru-Con for failing to secure the crane adequately.

Fru-Con eventually agreed to pay a $280,000 fine to the agency if it changed its classification of violations related to the accident from "willful" to "unclassified."

A criminal investigation into the accident is being conducted by Toledo police and the Lucas County prosecutor's office to determine whether any charges could be filed against a company or against individuals.

According to the probate court records released yesterday, the estates of Mr. Clark and Mr. Phillips were each paid $4.5 million, while $2.25 million went to the estate of Mr. Lipinski - before any expenses. Among the reasons for the difference in the settlement amounts are the number of survivors, including children, as well as attorney costs and other expenses in the cases.

After costs, records show that the family of Mr. Clark agreed to a payment of $2,375,206. The Michigan law firm of Fieger, Fieger, Kenney & Johnson that handled the estate received $1,793,470, or roughly 40 percent of the settlement, and $331,324 was allocated for other expenses in the case.

Fru-Con agreed to pay $2,733,238 to the family of Mr. Phillips to settle his estate's wrongful death claim, while $1.5 million, or one-third of the settlement, went to the law firm of Connelly, Jackson & Collier and attorney Joan Rife. An additional $266,762 was paid to cover other costs.

The beneficiaries of Mr. Lipinski were awarded $1,439,124. Attorneys representing the estate, including attorneys with the law firm of Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer, were paid $562,500 and $248,376 was set aside for additional costs in the case.

The beneficiaries of the estates are not taxed by the IRS in wrongful death settlements.

Attorneys representing the families argued to Judge Puffenberger during a hearing yesterday that the records should remain under seal, in part because of the privacy interests of the families.

However, Fritz Byers, an attorney for The Blade, said the records were public documents under the Ohio Public Records Act and through decisions by the Ohio Supreme Court. In particular, the state's highest court ruled in 2005 that all probate court records related to wrongful death settlements are public records.

That case involved the death of a girl struck by a puck that flew into the stands during a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game at Nationwide Arena.

Three other significant incidents have occurred on the skyway project since the crane collapse. A mechanical failure on Oct. 23, 2004, prompted a $70,000 fine from OSHA. Fru-Con contested that fine, but a tentative settlement has been reached, said Jule Hovi, OSHA area director. Details will be released after a federal administrative law judge has approved the settlement, she said.

An OSHA inspection of the bridge construction site Jan. 26 following two unrelated accidents that caused minor worker injuries resulted in three workplace safety violations being cited against Fru-Con. None of the violations was related to the accidents, however.

Instead, inspectors found a life-saving skiff that was locked up, making it unavailable for fast response if anyone were to fall into the Maumee River at the bridge site; inadequate fall protection at a part of the site in East Toledo, and inadequate measures to prevent objects on elevated surfaces from being pushed over the edge.

"We have no standards that applied to what created those injuries," Ms. Hovi. "But while we were there, we found these other issues."

In the two accidents, which occurred within 15 minutes of each other, one worker was hurt when a weld holding a winch in place failed and the winch shifted and struck him. Another worker was tripped when a safety cable being looped under the bridge caught his legs. Neither man was seriously hurt.

OSHA is proposing fines totaling $16,250 for violations discovered during an inspection after the accidents. The exposure to falling items is listed as a repeat violation, and carries the highest proposed fine, $12,500.

Fru-Con is contesting all the citations.

On Feb. 7, a 70-ton bridge segment fell 18 inches to the ground when a hoisting assembly failed during a test. Ms. Hovi said no OSHA action was anticipated pursuant to that incident.

Blade staff writer David Patch contributed to this report.

Contact Mark Reiter at or 419-213-2134

No information available about this mishap.

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