Crane Collapse In Austin, TX

by Meg Whynot-Young

In Austin, TX, a crane collapse caused workers to scramble out of the way of being crushed, either by the falling crane or the cement wall which was being erected at the time.

No one was killed in the accident, though one man was pinned under the collapsed crane, and two workers were transported to the hospital.

As of the publication date of this blog, there is no reported cause of the crane collapse. Video of the workers lifting the concrete wall with the crane and its subsequent collapse may show us some clues, however. Though it is tempting to play “armchair detective” and try to figure out from the many possibilities of what could have gone wrong investigators and those on- scene will have the best insight into exactly what happened.

Using cranes is an essential part of the construction and manufacturing industries. Employers must provide proper training to ensure their workers can operate cranes safely.

Key Hazards Related to Cranes and Derricks

There are four major causes of death and injury while working with cranes: electrocution, struck-by the equipment/load, falls, and crushing injuries. To prevent these hazards, OSHA has specifically outlined precautions that must be taken and procedures that should be followed in the 29 CFR Part 1926.1408 Cranes and Derricks Final Rule.

Power Lines

Power lines are the largest contributing factor to electrocution while working with cranes. You must identify your work zone. If your equipment could come within 20 feet of a power line, you have three options to continue work.

1) Call the utility company and have the line de-energized and visibly ground the line. 2) When cutting power to the line is not a feasible option you can continue work if you maintain a 20-foot clearance of the line. 3) The most complicated option, and one with the highest potential for hazard is to call the utility company and ask for the voltage, then use Table A  clearance (see 1926.1408 for Table)and encroachment prevention measures to prevent coming into contact with the line while working. The encroachment prevention measures are fully outlined in OSHA’s standard on cranes and derricks.

Crane Assembly and Disassembly Procedures

During the assembly and disassembly of the crane, there must be a qualified & competent person who is designated as the Assembly/Disassembly (A/D) Director. The A/D Director must review and understand procedures, follow the manufacturer’s guide, and ensure the crew understands what their tasks are, the hazards that are present, and how to complete their task safely.  

During assembly and disassembly (and at any other point during the operation) all rigging work can only be performed by a Qualified Rigger.

Outriggers must be fully extended or deployed per the load chart as provided by the manufacturer.

Fall Hazards

To prevent falls while working with cranes and derricks employees must be trained in the use of Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS). Anchor points for fall protection systems must meet Subpart M requirements and criteria.

Signal Person

There must be a qualified Signal Person who knows, understands and is competent in using signals, understands the basics of crane operation. The Signal Person must be trained in compliance with the OSHA standard and be tested with a verbal or written test plus a practical test to determine competency.

Crane Inspections

Crane inspections must be conducted regularly by a qualified or competent person per the OSHA standard.

Time of Inspection
Inspector Requirement

After modifications, repairs or adjustments
Qualified Person

Post- assembly
Qualified Person

Competent Person

Competent Person

Qualified Person

  All documentation required by the inspection provisions must be made available to all inspectors prior to inspection.

The 29 CFR 1926.1408 standard covers far more than can be included in this blog. If you are interested in learning more about crane and derrick safety, or you would like to take a class, please give us a call at (877) 399-1698. We offer crane safety awareness, and basic rigging and signaling courses.