On September 16th, two cranes at an Austin, TX, construction site collided. In the accident, 16 workers were injured and taken to local hospitals. None of the injuries are considered critical, but experts say that the incident highlights a significant lapse of workplace safety awareness.
Although it is unclear what caused all of the injuries, it is reported by Austin-Travis County EMS that nothing fell from the cranes and that the injuries occurred as workers fled the area.
The construction was on a large eight-story garage for a nearby office development.
Initially, there has been much finger-pointing as to the cause of the accident. The president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 520, Michael King, issued a statement that said, in part, “the reduction of funding of OSHA has crippled the agencies’ ability to monitor these sites for safety violations.” His statement also complained that Texas has the highest number of deadly construction accidents and is one of the few states that does not require Workers’ Compensation insurance to cover injured workers.
Texas saw 40 crane-related fatalities between 2011 and 2015. The next highest state was Illinois at 12 deaths.
One crane expert, Scott Orr from Paradise Crane Consultants, said that workplaces should have detailed plans designating work zones for each crane. He told KXAN in Austin, “There should be some type of planning that says we’ve looked at this, and we’ve looked at their radiuses and capabilities. And crane A is going to work here, and crane B is going to work there, whereby they can’t get together like that.”
The construction company Cadence McShane says they are running an internal investigation and working with local authorities. According to OSHA records, Cadence McShane construction sites have been inspected five times in the past four years and have only received one citation for the improper removal of debris.
The investigation is ongoing.