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Finding, penalties announced in fatal Pennsylvania crane collapse

This February, three men were killed when a crane collapsed at a plant in Antrim Township, Pennsylvania. The men, ages 38, 49 and 66, died as the result of blunt force trauma. Two died the day they suffered their injuries. The youngest of the three lived for eight days after the tragic incident. The men were working at the Grove U.S. LLC plant. Grove is a subsidiary of Manitowoc Co. Inc.

The 300-ton capacity lattice crawler crane was built at the Manitowoc plant in Shady Grove. The company moved its production of this type of crane to Pennsylvania from Wisconsin in 2016. That move resulted in the layoff of some 80 workers experienced in making this type of crane. However, one of the men who died was from Wisconsin.

Now the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has completed its investigation. It has fined Manitowoc the maximum amount allowed — just under $15,000. Most of that fine is because the company didn’t provide a workplace free “from recognized hazards that were likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

A little over $2,000 of the fine was because Manitowoc didn’t furnish OSHA with the appropriate records for over three months after the incident. They are supposed to do so within hours.

The director of the local OSHA office said, “This tragedy could have been avoided if the employer had assessed workplace hazards and used effective safety procedures to protect employees from serious and fatal injuries.”

The safety agency also listed a number of actions that Manitowoc needs to take to correct the hazard. One is implementing a policy to address wind speeds when machines should not be tested. Winds were blowing at 40 miles per hour when the crane collapsed as the men were testing it. They were trying to escape when parts of it struck them.

Further, OSHA cited Grove for allowing employees to work too close to the testing area, thus exposing them to struck-by hazards. The company has just over two weeks to comply or contest the findings.

In workplaces where employees are around heavy equipment, it’s essential for employers to implement appropriate safety procedures and adhere to them. When they fail to do that and workers suffer injuries or worse, victims and surviving loved ones should determine their legal options for seeking the compensation they need as they move forward.

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