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Unfortunately, workplace accidents are a reality. Much of the time, the damage done is minimal. However, in industrial workplaces, where heavy equipment is prominent, the stakes are raised and accidents too often have tragic results. A recent trend has been accidents involving cranes. On July 19, 2008 at a refinery in Houston, Texas, several workers died in a crane collapse. This disaster comes on the heels of two other high-profile fatal crane collapses in Manhattan this spring. As recently as last week another crane collapse in Texas resulted in a death.

The simple size and weight of a crane means that any accident has the potential to cause serious damage. In one of the Manhattan incidents, the scene resembled a Hollywood movie; the crane toppled off it base and fell across the street into another skyscraper before finally falling tens of stories to the ground below. Several men died in the accident and several condominiums were destroyed. Had the accident occurred at an hour when the condominiums were occupied, the result could have been even worse.

It is uncertain whether there are more crane accidents now, or if they are simply getting more attention than previously. Likewise, it is uncertain what causes these accidents. In the Manhattan tragedies, there has been the suggestion that poor oversight and perhaps corruption amongst the overseeing bodies led to unsafe conditions.

Cranes are essential to many large scale construction projects. However, due to the inherent dangers involved in crane use, it is important that steps are taken to protect the safety of crane operators and those nearby. These include proper training of operators, adequate upkeep of equipment, and enforcement of local safety codes. Finally, when there are preventable accidents, those responsible must held to account for their conduct.

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