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    HOUSTON CRANE INCIDENT UPDATE

    Crane operator ‘had never been in cab before’ fatal incident

    Federal Regulators have declared that the operator of the crane that collapsed in Houston, Texas had never been in the crane cab before and was not qualified for the job. He was a ‘seasoned operator’ of other large cranes but this was his first day driving the giant TC 36000 according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Four workers including the crane operator died in the incident in July 2008,  

    The crane jib collapsed backwards according to the report released by OSHA who state that  “not only was the crane operator inadequately trained, but the project superintendent did not ensure the crane did not reach hazardous conditions. If OSHA regulations and industry standards had been followed, it is possible this tragedy could have been prevented.”

    The employer failed to ensure the crane operator had specific training on the ‘crane’s operation, controls, load charges and a safety device’, according to the citation. OSHA is proposing that the company Deep South Crane and Rigging pay $71.5k in fines. Deep South said it cooperated with the OSHA  investigation and is reviewing the citations.

    Comment: The US system of regulation puts matters in the public domain much more quickly than does the UK system. The benefit is that lessons can be shared widely and acted upon quickly. Competence consists of more than just a ‘ticket’ to operate a general category of plant. Training and instruction on specific machines are vital especially where the consequences of error are so catastrophic.

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