PALM BAY, FL – U.S. Department of Labor safety investigators have found that a Melbourne rental crane service provider could have prevented the electrocution of a 34-year-old crane operator at a Palm Bay work site in August 2023 by ensuring required safety measures were in place and followed. Investigators with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration instead found that on Aug. 23, 2023, Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service Inc. sent an uncertified crane operator to a residential construction project alone to lift and place metal frame roof trusses at a residential construction project. After positioning the crane on an unpaved driveway and extending the boom to complete the first lift, the operator was electrocuted when the steel wire rope and chain rigging, suspended from the crane boom, contacted two 13,200-volt power lines next to the residential property. OSHA cited Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service for three serious violations for using an uncertified crane operator and operating a hydraulic crane within 20-feet of overhead powerlines. The employer also failed to ensure the crane was positioned on a stable foundation by utilizing adequate cribbing, materials meant to support the outriggers of the crane at a greater height. The agency also cited the employer for two other-than-serious violations for not labeling and marking rigging equipment and failing to ensure warning labels on the hydraulic crane were legible. “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,” said OSHA Area Office Director Erin Sanchez in Orlando, Florida. “Employers owe it to their employees to provide a safe working environment.”The agency 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. The department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 12 crane operators died in 2022. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.Visit OSHA’s website for information on developing a workplace safety and health program. Employers can also contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards.

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