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Worksite mishap spotlights regulators’ huge concern with crane safety

State and federal workplace safety officials in Louisiana and nationally routinely express outsized concerns with cranes used in construction projects and the need to keep their operations safe.

And for good reason, of course. Cranes are materially complex machines, with huge moving parts that are often on display hundreds of feet above the ground. A mistake – whether operational, mechanical or owing to some other factor – can quickly turn catastrophic.

Regulators from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Organization oversee crane safety and use with continuously close scrutiny. They understandably focus on potential downsides, especially this one reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: The BLS points to nearly 300 crane-linked deaths that occurred in the United States over a recent seven-year period.

And they unquestionably recoil when they are alerted to a story like the one that surfaced last week on Wednesday following reports of an accident involving large cranes in Austin, Texas.

To wit: Multiple people were injured when two cranes collided after their wires entangled.

“It was just crazy,” said one local resident who heard loud crashes following the incident.

Luckily (perhaps amazingly), not a single fatality was reported among the 22 people listed as injured.

OSHA will undoubtedly probe the accident in exhausting detail. That will obviously take some time, given that news stories continued to report a high degree of uncertainty regarding the mishap even days after its occurrence.

The accident occurred at a project featuring construction of a multi-story office complex and garage.