a crane operator there are many risks involved in every lift. No matter
how well a lift is planned, there are still possibilities of problems
arising. The biggest fear for me is human error so, when there are risky
lifts coming up there is no wonder those problems can follow me to bed.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
was on a job with 3 other people where we were working to disassemble a
portal crane. Most of the crane had already been disassembled when I
arrived and there was only the base of the crane left. The base was
blocked up in the middle allowing us to remove the large section with
the traveling rollers. This section was about thirty feet high and
long, with the width less then five.
Facing the narrow part of the base
from about twenty feet away, sat a 70 ton HTC (hydraulic mobile crane). I
had just come in on the shift and was asked by the supervisor (who
resembles the actor Edward James Olmos) to rig up the rear of the base
while the foreman took care of the front. I wrapped the free end of the
cable around the base and made a choke. After finishing, I saw that the
foremen had rigged his part also but noticed that he had only cradled
his cable which would make the pick not only un-level but very unstable.
walked over to the foreman to let him know we needed to decide on which
technique to use. As I was talking with him, I heard the supervisor
yelling over to the operator in the HTC to hoist up. I began waving my
arms to get the operator’s attention, not believing that the supervisor
had jumped the gun without checking with me or the foreman.
operator’s attention was on the supervisor and the base. The operator
was also coming up much too fast. The front of the base came up first
causing the back to twist around toward the three of us on the ground.
The base shifted hard and kicked away from the HTC which overloaded the
crane and it began to tip forward. The tipping was fast and the operator
He should have hoisted and boomed down quickly but instead he
held onto his seat. The three of us ran as the base fell toward us. I
was closer to the crane so continued looking back. The crane’s body rose
to ninety degrees and the operator fell out of the cab. I watched in
horror as he hit the ground. The fall was only about ten feet but I knew
the 100,000 lb crane would fall over, crushing him.
The ground began to rumble as tons of crane and crane base smashed
to the ground. I felt the breeze and shock of the ground as the boom of
the HTC landed a foot or two behind me. Once the noise and rumbling
stopped, I came to a stop. I turned to see the job site in a mess of
I rushed over to the fallen operator who had luckily been
spared from the crushing burial of the crane; however; he had been
struck in the chest by something and was in pain. He needed medical
attention but I had the feeling he would live. I heard a cry from the
foreman and ran over to him. He too had just missed the fallen steel of
both cranes and like the operator had the same chest injury.
next move was to find the supervisor. I recalled seeing him running
around the falling base at the time to get to the other side. I found
him near where the base had been standing and he was surrounded by
twisted metal but none had fallen on him. I had to make my way over the
steel to him.
As with the other two men, I found him with the same chest
injury. I left him and made my way out of the debris in order to go get
help. Just as I was out on clear ground a pain began to well up in my
chest. The pain became so bad that I fell to the ground unable to
breath. Clutching my chest, I awoke from the pain.