Falling construction crane captured on video

St. Elmo Crane Collapse_612817

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two people were evaluated for injuries after a crane toppled at a construction site in southeast Austin. One of the workers was pinned beneath it before being freed.

The incident happened at 2301 E. St. Elmo Road at 8:57 a.m. Austin-Travis County EMS said one of the men was taken to St. David’s South Austin hospital with injuries that were not expected to be life-threatening. The other man refused transport.

The red crane was on its side near what appears to be a partially-constructed concrete warehouse wall. Video taken on site showed the crane operator trying to lift a concrete wall when it appears one of the chains on a corner of the wall suddenly snaps and drops the concrete wall.

A worker who was standing on the concrete slab was knocked off as the crane and concrete wall came tumbling down. The workers who were standing nearby all made a mad dash to get out of the way. More than half a dozen workers could be seen standing around the crane when it started lifting the slab.

Raymond Construct Company Inc. is the contractor on the project.

“A crane did overturn this morning on the project site in question. No injuries were reported except one worker slightly injuring his foot when exiting the crane cab,” wrote Justin Deming with the company. Deming says the company is still investigating to determine what caused the collapse.

A crane expert tells KXAN the crane that was being used was a lattice boom truck crane. 

Dave Ritchie, a crane operator for 17 years, is a safety consultant for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He says part of the problem with putting up concrete tilt wall is you have to have people at the boom ready to pull the braces away so it doesn’t dig into the slab when the wall is vertical.

“I think everyone is lucky that there were no fatalities,” said Ritchie. “People are in the most dangerous location according to load position and you can’t get away from it.”

But as to how that rigging detached that brought the crane down? He says either the insert came out of the concrete — which is dependent on the quality of the concrete and hard to control — or there was a defect or problem with the rigging. That could be up to the workers putting it together or them not catching a defect during an inspection.

Large tower cranes that dot Austin’s skyline are safer, but it’s far more common to use mobile cranes like the one that fell over.

“Most of their accidents occur during lifting operations because they don’t have as many safety devices built into them as a tower crane and they’re much easier to override those safety systems,” said Ritchie.

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