Southeast Texas Water Tower Accident Kills One Worker, Injures Another—Is the Crane to Blame?

- Charles Argento

Last month, a water tower accident in Porter, Texas (about 30 miles northeast of Houston) killed one worker and injured another when a steel panel being lifted into the air crashed into the open water tank where four workers were inside. The uninjured men were rescued and lowered 150 feet to safety, the injured man was taken to a regional hospital with arm and chest injuries, and the fatally injured man died at the scene. Soon after, OSHA inspectors came to the water tower construction site to investigate what caused the accident.

According to witnesses, the panel (part of the tank’s sidewall) was going up, lifted by a crane, when suddenly it collapsed into the tank after dangling in the air. The workers inside could be heard banging on the tank and saying, “Don’t move the crane.”

Causes of Construction Site Crane Accidents

Given that the sidewall panel fell from the crane while suspended, an issue with crane operation, assembly, or safety precautions may have caused or contributed to this fatal accident. In fact, crane accidents are among the most frequent causes of serious injuries and fatalities on construction sites. In recent studies, Texas ranked second in the country for most incidents of crane-related deaths and injuries, with approximately nine deaths and 20 injuries per year. Known factors and scenarios resulting in crane accidents include:

  • Construction companies allowing individuals without proper training and qualifications to operate cranes
  • Overloading cranes, which may cause the crane arm to buckle, break, or collapse
  • Failing to properly secure crane loads
  • Instability failures caused by inadequate ground support or inadequate leveling
  • Improper crane assembly
  • Defective and/or malfunctioning crane parts
  • Failing to properly inspect and/or maintain cranes
  • Operating cranes near powerlines

Most, if not all, of the circumstances listed above can be avoided if appropriate safety measures are followed before, during, and after crane operation. When accidents and injuries occur as the result of a failure to prevent hazards, injured workers and their family members (in the event of a fatal accident) may be entitled to compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. The duty of a personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyer is to thoroughly investigate accidents like these, so that every recovery option is made available to the injury victim.

Speak with an Experienced Houston Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident in the Houston area, please contact Charles J. Argento, Accident & Injury Attorney. Our office handles both personal injury cases and workers’ compensation claims, ensuring you receive maximum compensation and benefits for losses.