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Crane operator survives harrowing construction accident

It's really the kind of construction accident that knows no geography.

In other words, and while it occurred on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle, it could just as easily have happened at virtually any construction site in Ohio or elsewhere. It serves as a stark and immediate reminder to construction workers everywhere of two central points: Luck can play an exceedingly large role in the outcome of a construction accident, and the risk of a workplace injury is always present.

The material facts surrounding the incident that occurred on a Saturday morning in late July as a crane operator was demolishing an old campus dormitory are truly remarkable. As the man pulled a wall over with his excavator (a maneuver termed routine), a 20-ton slab of concrete -- a virtual wall -- crashed down upon him after falling six stories. The slab measured an estimated 15 feet by 30 feet across.

Virtually every person familiar with those dimensions, and especially the other workers onsite, expressed amazement that the man survived the accident.

Co-workers included the man's two sons.

"I had a real sick feeling," said one.

"It looked like a pancake," said the other, referring to the collapsed crane.

Indeed, the crane's cab was crushed on impact and buried. It took rescue workers nearly two hours to free the operator from the wreckage. His safety helmet was cracked.

The man suffered spinal, neck and knee injuries, with attendant bruising on his brain.

State safety officials are fully investigating the incident.

There is no question that the operator is lucky to be alive in the aftermath of such an accident. A crane collapse can occur anywhere, including in Ohio. Contact an experienced Cleveland construction accident attorney for information and consultation regarding any aspect of a workplace injury.

Source: KVAL, "Crane operator critically injured in UW construction accident," July 23, 2012

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