Any number of things can occur with any type hoisting equipment. One item that can easily cause friction drum brakes to fail is the type lubricants used. If the lubricant is not designed for High Temperature use, it can melt down, get on the brake drums and cause the "lack of friction" on the brakes. There can be brake fluid lines that burst causing fluid to leak out. As I said, there are MANY causes of brake release on cranes. This is a primary reason for DAILY, and MONTHLY inspections, as well as ANNUAL Certifications of all cranes.
It seems as the two workers will survive this incident, they were fortunate that they aren't listed as fatalities. Workers within the reach of crane booms should be evacuated prior to making critical lifts overhead. And, flaggers and rigging personnel should NEVER be beneath a suspended load.
(The Avalance Journal article below)
A crane malfunction was blamed for the partial collapse of a three-story parking garage Tuesday morning that seriously injured two workers.
A portion of the parking garage on Glenna Goodacre Boulevard just east of Avenue X experienced a "pancake collapse" when a beam fell from a crane and crashed into the third level shortly before 10 a.m. The third floor of the deck fell on the second floor, which then collapsed onto the first.
The beam, weighing between six and nine tons, dropped from about 10 feet above the top of the structure, which was being built by Lee Lewis Construction for a new McDougal property - a luxury apartment complex for students.
"They have confirmed the collapse was due to a mechanical crane failure," said Steve O'Neal, the city's chief building official.
The finding the crane was at fault erased initial fears the incident may have been caused by a structural defect but brought up new concerns amid a recent rash of crane failures nationwide.
Two male workers, whose names were not released, were rushed to University Medical Center. They were both in serious condition Tuesday, a hospital official said, but their injuries were not believed to be life threatening.
The accident also shut down westbound traffic along Glenna Goodacre from Avenue X to Avenue V for an undetermined amount of time for safety reasons.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are investigating the collapse along with engineers with the Lubbock Fire Department, Lee Lewis Construction and the city of Lubbock. Officials also are reviewing the stability of the building to determine if any damage was caused by the collapse. They don't believe the deck poses a risk of tumbling, though some of the building may need to be repaired to be structurally sound.
O'Neal said preliminary investigation results show the brake drum on the crane's hoist failed: "If it fails, it's just like you dropped it."
He was not sure why there was a mechanical error but said the crane was safety certified and had only arrived at the construction site within the last 30 to 60 days. He did not know its age.
Lee Lewis Construction officials declined to comment on the incident.
Mike McDougal, president of McDougal Properties, said investigators were working to determine why there was a mechanical error.
O'Neal said crane malfunctions seem to be an issue lately. He's not sure why, but there seems to have been more crane failures in the past six months that ever before, with deadly reports across the nation, including two in New York City. He didn't know if crane fatigue was contributing to the problem nationwide.
OSHA spokeswoman Elizabeth Todd said it could take up to six months to complete the agency's investigation.
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