Residents of large cities in Pennsylvania rarely have the time to look up and consider the huge cranes sitting perched atop high-rise construction projects. These cranes weigh an enormous amount and operate throughout the day above busy urban streets, and they can cause catastrophic damage when things go wrong. A crane accident in New York City claimed nine lives in 2008, and questions have been raised about the certification and training requirements for crane operators.

There is currently no federal certification program in place for construction crane operators, and real estate developers generally rely on training provided by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators to ensure that safety protocols are followed. While many would assume that giant construction cranes pose the biggest threat to both public and worker safety, the CEO of the NCCCO feels that smaller cranes operated by local businesses could be even more dangerous.

Construction cranes are highly sophisticated machines, and their operators are often extremely vulnerable as they sit in exposed cabs that offer few avenues of escape. Experts say that even smaller cranes used on residential or minor commercial construction projects should be inspected thoroughly and on a regular basis for signs of mechanical or structural problems, and they feel that OSHA guidelines that only call for an annual inspection should be updated.

Workers who are injured on the job may apply for workers’ compensation benefits to help them with their medical expenses and other bills until they are able to return to their jobs, but they may choose to file a lawsuit against their employers instead in certain situations. The safety of workers who operate dangerous machinery is dependent on their employers obeying safety regulations and conducting regular inspections, and the actions of employers who fail in this duty could be viewed as reckless.