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Crane Failures at Sea

Rick Plezia December 23, 2015 Offshore Injuries

Given that Texas features a long shoreline with the Gulf of Mexico, a lot of oil and gas and a direct route to other parts of the world, we have our share of jobs that happen at sea. While most of us, when we think of cranes at all, think of them rising high from land-based high-rise construction sites, the reality is, there is extensive use of cranes in the maritime and offshore industry. There are submersible and semi-submersible cranes, cranes that sit on boats and those that work with oil platforms, as well as cargo cranes, transfer cranes and many others. And, crane failures can cause catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death.

Cranes are used in just about every phase and type of offshore work. They are used in the shipping industry to carry heavy objects and, used properly, they can prevent a lot of unnecessary injury to offshore workers, which is a good thing, because it is often very difficult for offshore workers to get medical help in an emergency.

Cranes Can Result In Serious Damage and Devastating Injury

Unfortunately, under certain circumstances, cranes can also result in serious damage and potentially devastating worker injuries. In some cases, when a crane is being used to carry a heavy object, it may drop that object, resulting in injury or death. In other cases, a crane can collapse, fall, or tip over or something else can happen that can lead to devastation for workers and their families.

Accidents involving the use of cranes at sea have a number of potential causes, although most are the result of negligence. Among the most commonly cited causes include loading the crane with more weight than it is designed to carry, failing to properly counterbalance the load, stress failure, and mental fatigue. However, an operator’s failure to follow safety procedures, failure to conduct proper maintenance and inexperienced, untrained or unqualified operators are also far too common and can cause crane failures.

Safety Measures for Crane Use

According to federal and Texas law, certain measures must be taken whenever cranes are used, in order to keep workers in the area safe. These include:

  • Having crane inspection professionals test and certify every crane in operation
  • Every moving part of a crane is required to be guarded
  • The area below the swing radius of the crane must always be cleared of workers and workers must be trained to keep that area clear
  • Every crane operator is required to be fully trained with regard to its safe use. That responsibility will actually be expanded in 2017, when crane operators will have to be certified to operate most cranes.
  • Emergency procedures and equipment must be in place when operating a crane, in case of an accident.

In addition to those requirements, cranes used offshore should actually undergo more frequent inspections because of the negative effects of the salt water, which can cause a more rapid deterioration of metal parts, and because harsh weather conditions can lead to problems, as well. When dealing with an offshore crane, the owner of a vessel is ultimately responsible for making sure the crane and all other equipment used on that vessel is kept in safe operating condition.

What To Do After Crane Failures At Sea

Anyone who has been injured in an accident involving a crane while working at sea should know that they have additional rights under maritime law, in addition to normal state and federal occupational safety law. Depending on the circumstances, injured workers and families may be eligible for compensation under a number of maritime laws, including the Jones Act and several others laws designed to specifically protect them.

If you or a loved one has been injured in crane failures in a maritime job, the Houston offshore injury lawyers at Richard J. Plezia & Associates, have the experience to be able to evaluate your situation and get you the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries. Contact us today, so that we can help you make those who are responsible accountable for their negligence and get you the compensation you deserve.