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Tower crane inspections mirror airplane safety checks

Major construction projects in New Jersey often involve the use of tower cranes. These massive pieces of machinery lift and move heavy material loads. When they fail, the accidents often turn deadly for both workers and bystanders. Although the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration only requires an annual inspection, most crane operators inspect their equipment every day.

One OSHA inspector likened cranes to airplanes. He said that the threat of death and property destruction from a failure made the stakes very high. As with an airplane malfunction, a problem with a crane can lead to a catastrophe.

Industry experts agree with the airplane comparison. Tower cranes experience enormous stresses during operation, and they are engineered to endure hurricane-force winds. Each crane is anchored by a giant concrete block that often remains a permanent part of the building's foundation because moving the anchor would be too difficult. Although the machine itself has been constructed to avoid failure, human errors cannot be entirely avoided. When a person overloads a crane, then part of it could break.

Construction accidents that injure or kill a worker often involve the state workers' compensation insurance system. Employers maintain this insurance to provide medical or death benefits after a workplace accident. However, some injured workers find that they are not covered due to being misclassified as an independent contractor while others may see their claims disputed or denied by the employer or its insurance carrier. In many such cases, an attorney might provide advice as to how best to seek financial compensation for the losses that have been incurred.

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