Monday, June 2, 2008

Crane Accidents Addressed

In the article below from The Ann Arbor News the person from State office of Safety and Health Administration makes the statement that "We know how to do it right,"

Knowing HOW to do it RIGHT is admirable, however, DOING IT RIGHT is a total difference. The person also states that the State of Michigan employs 15 persons to inspect cranes along with all type safety inspections across the entire state seems to allow a very short amount of time to inspect all the many cranes in the state.

I do wholeheartedly agree that "If the cranes used to hoist materials are put together properly, inspected properly, and used properly by trained operators, accidents should be rare." Probably, the most critical problem with all type cranes across the nation is the lack of trained operators and properly trained maintenance and inspection persons. I've seen too many situations on job sites from all over the country that this is the true problem. It is essential that contractors have these items as REQUIRED STANDARDS OF OPERATIONS for ALL of their job sites.

Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Ann Arbor News

If the fourth construction crane collapse to make news across the nation in three months causes you look at Ann Arbor's skyline and wonder about safety, Bob Pawlowski offers this thought: "It's a matter of diligence.''

"We know how to do it right,'' said Pawlowski, director of construction and safety for the state Office of Safety and Health Administration.

If the cranes used to hoist materials are put together properly, inspected properly, and used by trained operators, accidents should be rare, he said.

Despite the spate of accidents, the most recent in New York Friday, "they're not common,'' Pawlowski said. "Unfortunately, when they do occur, they can be catastrophic.''

MIOSHA employs 15 safety inspectors who visit construction sites across Michigan. Safety checks of cranes and their operation are part of those inspections.

Here's how it works:

  • Using a database of all construction projects valued at $200,000 and over, MIOSHA generates a list each month of all those that should be 30-60 percent complete, based on dates construction began and the cost of each project.
  • Of the thousands that may be on that list on any given month, a more manageable number is selected at random. "We have to be concerned about any appearance of targeting anyone,'' Pawlowski said.
  • Each inspector may visit 15 to 20 sites a month. In Southeast Michigan, and other urban areas, inspectors spend less time traveling and likely make more inspections, Pawlowski said.

    Particularly large projects - a casino, for example - will certainly get a visit, based in the number of contractors and the projected building occupancy.

  • For any project using a crane, a review of its use and maintenance is part of the inspection visit.

    Inspectors will observe operations, check equipment inspection logs and quiz crane operators to determine that they're properly trained, Pawlowski said.

    "You do run into occasional situations where someone will rent a crane, and the employee isn't adequately trained,'' he said.

    MIOSHA also investigates accidents, like the recent case of a cherry-picker type crane that tipped when it crossed an open section of an overpass on M-14, where the deck was being replaced. That incident is still under investigation.

    At the moment, large cranes - including numerous stationary "tower'' cranes - are on more than half a dozen construction sites in Ann Arbor.

    Many of those projects are at University of Michigan facilities. Although U-M is not subject to local building inspections, MIOSHA does inspect university construction, Pawlowski said.

    Judy McGovern can be reached at 734-994-6863 or

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