Construction workers spending hours under the hot sun often welcome a cool breeze occasionally, but there are plenty of times where that gentle breeze can turn into a deadly gust. Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of tornado activity throughout the nation, and unfortunately our tornado seasons tend to last for half of the year. Residents and workers are on high alert between March and August.
Even on days without tornadoes, work sites are vulnerable to heavy winds that could ruin the projects and endanger their workers’ lives. Employers and contractors need to remind themselves during these months just how dangerous the wind can get and how crucial it is to prepare for dangerous forecasts.
Last month in downtown Dallas, a construction crane collapsed under 70 mph winds and killed one person while injuring others and caused extensive property damage. The crane was not in use at the time of the collapse, and many officials believe that the operator did not attempt to decrease the machine’s wind resistance before the storm, which increased the crane’s chances of falling apart.
Wind is often one of the most common causes of crane accidents, so it is important for the operators to carefully position the crane once they are done for the day and there are high gusts in the forecast. Even though these are very durable machines, some have collapsed under lower wind speeds. The Dallas City Manager also revealed that the city does not currently require crane inspections, which shows just how many southern cities are unprepared to deal with these storms.
It isn’t just the large cities that are vulnerable to high gusts in the south. Recently, a thunderstorm in South Carolina brought heavy winds that tore down a house and left two workers dead. The winds were so bad that the emergency team had to avoid downed power lines and collapsing trees on their way to retrieve the employees.
Construction workers and employers should review evacuation plans if they are expecting a possible thunderstorm or heavy wind activity in the area. They should understand when it is time to call it a day and prioritize getting everyone to safety rather than get a little extra work done on the project. Those extra minutes might be all it takes to end someone’s life. Family members of injured or deceased construction workers should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to help them with their financial problems after a devastating storm.