The Department of Labor in the US has issued a citation to a crane service company in Melbourne following an investigation which revealed that insufficient safety measures resulted in the fatal electrocution of a 34-year-old worker.

Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service Inc. has been found responsible for the tragic death of a 34-year-old crane operator at a Palm Bay work site in August 2023. The U.S. Department of Labor conducted an investigation and determined that the incident could have been prevented if the company had followed required safety measures.

According to the investigation, on Aug. 23, 2023, Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service Inc. sent an uncertified crane operator to a residential construction project alone. The operator was tasked with lifting and placing metal frame roof trusses at the site. However, the company failed to ensure that the necessary safety protocols were in place. The crane was positioned on an unpaved driveway and the boom was extended to complete the first lift. Unfortunately, the operator was electrocuted when the steel wire rope and chain rigging, suspended from the crane boom, came into contact with two 13,200-volt power lines next to the residential property.

OSHA cited Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service for three serious violations, including using an uncertified crane operator and operating a hydraulic crane within 20 feet of overhead powerlines. The company also failed to ensure that the crane was positioned on a stable foundation by using adequate cribbing. Additionally, the employer was cited for two other-than-serious violations for not labeling and marking rigging equipment and failing to ensure that warning labels on the hydraulic crane were legible.

OSHA Area Office Director Erin Sanchez in Orlando, Florida stated, “Fatal incidents in construction often occur because of the employer’s failure to follow basic safety protocols and industry-standard regulations. In this case, Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service cut corners and made the conscious choice to send an uncertified crane operator to a job site. That decision led to this worker losing their life. Employers owe it to their employees to provide a safe working environment.”

The agency has proposed $26,585 in penalties for the employer. Construction safety standards that prevent workplace accidents involving mobile, overhead, and rail-mounted cranes are industry standards. They were enacted following a high rate of accidents and fatalities related to crane operation in the construction industry. In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 12 crane operators died on the job.

Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service Inc. has 15 business days to comply with the citations and penalties, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Employers can visit OSHA’s website for information on developing a workplace safety and health program. They can also contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards. It is the responsibility of employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees.  

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