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Construction accidents: I-beam kills crane operator, flagger

On the eve of Thanksgiving, two workers lost their lives in the latest incident in a series of fatal crane-related accidents in New York over recent years. One of the ways in which the city tries to prevent construction accidents is to prohibit the use of cranes when winds reach a certain strength; however, nobody seems to be sure whether the wind speed was just below or just over the limit on the fateful Tuesday. Until proved otherwise, authorities cite equipment failure as the cause of the fatalities.

Reportedly, a 47-year-old crane operator hoisted a 6,500-pound steel I-beam into place on a six-story building when the massive beam inexplicably detached and came crashing down. It fell onto the crane cab and a 43-year-old father of three who was the flagman. Both workers died on impact. The incident occurred shortly after midday, but it took rescue workers more than four hours to extricate the remains of the crane operator from the crushed cab.

Although a thorough investigation will follow, authorities suspect that a rigging rope snapped. When a crane has a boom of which the length exceeds 250 feet, a master rigger must be on site to ensure secure connections and safe movement of large objects. The records of the Department of Buildings indicate that this crane's boom was only 232 feet long, and the presence of a master rigger was not necessary.

While identifying the cause of this incident may prevent similar construction accidents in New York, nothing can fill the voids left in the lives of the loved ones of the two workers who died in this tragedy. However, workers' compensation benefits may ease the financial burdens placed on the surviving family members. They may file death benefits claims for coverage of expenses related to end-of-life arrangements along with wage-replacement packages to help with daily living expenses.

Source: New York Daily News, "Two construction workers killed by falling beam at Queens site", Rich Schapiro, Greg B. Smith, Thomas Tracy, Graham Rayman, Ginger Adams Otis, Nov. 23, 2016

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