In our blog before Hurricane Irma hit last week, attorney David S. Tupler spoke of the construction accident risks associated with the unsecured cranes atop buildings in South Florida. Despite some manufacturers' claims that cranes are designed to remain upright in winds up to 145 m.p.h., three construction cranes collapsed in Broward and Miami-Dade counties after being pummeled by Irma's winds, including one at Auberge Beach Residences and Spa in Fort Lauderdale.
What's alarming here is that the winds in Fort Lauderdale and the rest of Broward County peaked at 109 m.p.h., well shy of the claims. Our pre-Irma blog mentioned that construction cranes rarely have been put to the test in a real-world setting, as replicating such strong winds for such large structures was very difficult. We have some idea now, as captured on camera by a Twitter user:
Though there were no immediate reports of casualties as a direct result of the crane collapses, there were early signs of damage, as reported by NBC 6:
The crane collapses will undoubtedly spark debate once again over the need for better testing and stronger regulations regarding crane construction and safety. In 2008, Miami-Dade passed an ordinance requiring that construction cranes be able to sustain winds of up to 140 m.p.h., but the legislation was thrown out on a legal challenge. There no doubt will be a lot of finger-pointing and calls for renewed legislative action in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
The images we saw on television reminded us of the dangers that could result from a construction site that is not properly secured prior to a major storm. Unfortunately, the threat is far from over. Workers returning to the site should exercise extreme caution to prevent injuries from Irma-related construction accidents. The owners of construction companies are responsible for ensuring that the site is secure and safe for their workers' return, but this process sometimes is rushed and safety protocols go unfollowed.
If you're a worker who was injured under these or similar circumstances in Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Broward County, seek the guidance of a construction accident lawyer to learn your legal options.