NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Crane-related deaths in the U.S. construction industry, 1984-1994.

Suruda A; Egger M; Liu D
Silver Spring, MD: The Center to Protect Workers' Rights, 1997 Oct; :1-15
Construction work is hazardous and can lead to occupational injury and disease (Burkhart and others 1993). The U.S. construction industry has had the highest rate of injury of any major industry group in the Bureau of Labor Statistics annual survey (Bureau of Labor Statistics 1997). Mobile cranes are the backbone of the U.S. construction industry. MacCollum, a recognized authority on crane hazards, has estimated that cranes are involved in 25 to 33 percent of fatal injuries in construction and maintenance (MacCollum 1993). The type and number of injuries related to cranes are difficult to quantify, because reported statistics on work-related injuries usually group cranes in larger categories such as "industrial vehicles and equipment" or "equipment and machinery." According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the category "industrial vehicles and equipment" accounts for 17 percent of fatal injuries in U.S. construction (Bureau of Labor Statistics 1993). But the proportion of injuries actually involving construction vehicles and equipment is probably greater. For instance, "electrocution," "falls," and "struck by objects" - all of which might include cranes and are significant sources of fatal injuries in construction - are separate categories not included in "industrial vehicles and equipment." A study of OSHA reports by Hinze and Bren (1996) found that cranes were reported to be involved in 108 (38 percent) of 284 fatal electrical injuries in the construction industry that involved heavy equipment. (OSHA is the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.) In England, cranes reportedly are involved in 17 percent of fatal injuries in construction (Health and Safety Executive 1978). The proportion of accidents involving cranes that result in a death or serious injury is unknown. A study in Finland showed that about 12 percent of accidents involving cranes result in death or permanent disability (Hakkinen 1978). There are engineering controls for prevention of crane accidents. Anti two-blocking devices, outrigger extension sensing systems, overload sensors, and limit switches can eliminate or reduce certain failure modes (Jarasunas 1987). Warning devices and limit switches increase safety by providing more information to the operator and reducing the need for guesswork. However, it is unlikely that engineering controls will make crane operation a simple matter. Dugan (1972) conducted a survey of members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 3, which compared their work injury rates with the frequency of safety training, attitudes about risk, and whether routine jobsite safety meetings were held. Safety training, job safety meetings, and attitudes about risk taking were all felt to be related to the risk of injury in construction. The present pilot study has investigated whether OSHA reports could be used to furnish additional information on fatal work-related injuries involving cranes and to identify opportunities for prevention by increased worker safety training or other means.
Construction; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Construction-materials; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Work-environment; Work-practices; Worker-health; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Health-hazards; Equipment-design; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Machine-operation; Machine-operators; Training; Attitude; Behavior; Engineering-controls; Environmental-control; Environmental-engineering; Fail-safe; Hoisting-equipment; Mortality-data; Motor-vehicles
Building and Construction Trades Dept., AFL-CIO: CPWR, Suite 1000, 8484 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910
Publication Date
Document Type
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Construction
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U02-CCU-310982; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U02-CCU-312014
Priority Area
Source Name
Crane-Related Deaths in the U.S. Construction Industry, 1984-1994
Performing Organization
Center to Protect Workers' Rights
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division