Crane collapses onto apartment block at Wolli Creek; residents unable to return home

Three workers were injured when the crane fell, with the construction union condemning the incident as “not good enough”.

Two damaged buildings have been evacuated as well as residents in surrounding buildings, emergency services say.

Trains on the Airport Line between Central and Turrella have been cancelled as a precaution and Sydney Trains yesterday warned over 50,000 people could have their travel plans disrupted today.

“There may not be rail services to both the international and domestic airports [on Monday] morning,” CEO Howard Collins said.

Just after 9:30am emergency services were called to Brodie Spark Drive following reports a crane had fallen from one building and onto a second building.

The workers injured in the incident were responsible for the erection of the crane and all three are being treated at St George Hospital, one for a suspected broken leg.

Police said no-one was inside the crane when it collapsed.

Fire and Rescue Superintendent Josh Turner said the priority was making sure no-one on or around the site was at risk.

“At this stage we are going to keep approximately 20 firefighters on site who are working with a USAR [Urban Search and Rescue] team and they have electronic movement devices on all areas around the building, the crane and the scaffolding to log what movement is happening,” he said.

High wind in the area is currently making the situation more risky and exclusion zones will stay in place until further discussions with engineers, Superintendent Turner said.

Building managers are now working out where to relocate the approximately 200 people who will not be able to return to their units.

‘Could have seen many lives lost’

CFMEU NSW state secretary Brian Parker said early investigations indicate it was a mechanical or engineering fault with the crane that caused it to collapse.

“We are very, very concerned about this particular issue,” he said.

“In this day and age, and all the expertise we have, it’s not good enough.

“We have seen cranes catch fire, fall out of the sky, but not cranes that collapse onto buildings that have residents.

“Our fears are not just for the workers that work to erect these cranes, but also the public.”

The CFMEU is calling for a stop on any further erection of cranes until investigations are complete.

“It could have been a major disaster here today and we could have seen many lives lost,” Mr Parker said.

SafeWork New South Wales has been notified of the incident.

‘I don’t think I’ll ever live in a tall building again’

Mary Broadley who lives in the unit block the crane struck said she thought the whole building was going to collapse when she felt it start to shake.

“It was so noisy, it was just unreal the noise,” she said.

Her husband Bill Broadley said it “was like a bomb going off”.

“I went to take a look and the crane was right outside the bedroom window,” Mrs Broadley said.

The ceiling and the walls of the bedroom have cracked and the windows have smashed, she said.

“I could have been in the bedroom, or the kids could have been in there,” Mr Broadley said.

“It was so scary, I don’t think I’ll ever live in a tall building again,” Mrs Broadley said.

Original Post:

High above KC’s changing skyline, crane operators build downtown’s revitalization

Perched high above a Children’s Mercy Hospital construction site, Carl Potter gently moves his left wrist and the 100-plus-foot tower crane rumbles to the right.

A push of his wrist sends the crane’s hook to the ground, where dozens of construction workers wait to attach a cement bucket to the crane’s rigging. They look like toy soldiers from this vantage point.

One of the four walkie-talkies used to communicate with the workers goes off, and he’s on to the next pick. Sometimes he eyes the drop and sometimes can’t see his work at all — relying on radio signals to navigate.

“It’s constant. There’s a tentative schedule, but I don’t eat lunch, I don’t have time,” says Potter, a tower crane operator for about 17 years.

As one of about 4,500 heavy machine operators in the Operating Engineers Local 101 union, Potter has been busy handling downtown Kansas City’s construction boom.

From his operator’s chair, Potter has a breathtaking view of downtown — a skyline crane operators have forged in the last decade — the Sprint Center, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the current construction of the city’s Two Light luxury apartments.

“Downtown’s growth has been the single most important thing that has happened to the construction industry,” said Jeff Holt, director of operations for Wilkerson Crane rentals, which owns cranes and provides operators. “Ten years ago you didn’t go downtown for nothing, and as an operator, the pride of driving downtown and seeing the things you’ve built, being a part of that change, it’s incredible.”

Potter, 41, of Lee’s Summit, has been up since 3:30 a.m. and has been overlooking the parking garage construction site inside the closet-sized cockpit since 4:30 a.m..

There’s a honey bun, oatmeal cream pie and a few empty energy drink cans in a neat row near his left arm rest. Underneath, a small cabinet door conceals a few water bottles filled with urine — it would be a waste of time to make the 10-minute climb down to use the restroom.

There’s an AM/FM radio built into the crane’s dashboard, but Potter doesn’t use it, opting for complete concentration during his typical 11-hour shifts. Potter tries to minimize distractions in a construction industry that accounts for more than 4,500 deaths annually, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He combines this discipline with more than 4,000 hours of required training by the union’s certification program.

Learning how

About 30 miles north in Weston, Stoney Cox stands on top of a 100-foot tower crane.

Cox, administrator of the union’s apprenticeship program, surveys the 220-acre training facility and casually leans over the railing. The facility is one of the largest in the country with a diverse landscape of hills and trees.

The Operating Engineers represent workers who use heavy machines, which include large dirt excavators, rollers, bulldozers and various cranes. The facility has more than 50 machines on the property to practice on. The international union often hosts conferences and training sessions on the property.

“Apprentices will take these cranes entirely apart almost a dozen times and learn every part of the machine before they even sit in an operator’s chair,” Cox says.

The three-year program requires 4,000 hours of training, including time in the facility’s classrooms and in the field working as an oiler. An oiler acts as an assistant to the large machine operators, maintaining the equipment, and in turn, the operator trains the apprentice on the job.

Nationally, middle-skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of the labor market in the United States. In both Missouri and Kansas, there aren’t enough skilled laborers to fill the jobs, according to the National Skills Coalition.

Local 101 president Michael Charlton says the union has had a steady flow of apprentices the last few years to meet the area’s growing demand. They’ve struggled to recruit in the past, but Charlton says a more aggressive online advertising campaign and career fairs have boosted numbers.

“There’s zero cost to be an apprentice,” Cox said. “We use that a lot when we go to career fairs. Then parents come in and are asking, ‘You telling me little Johnny doesn’t have to pay for this?’ He pays nothing.”

At the same time, college is getting more expensive. The average four-year college student graduates with more than $30,000 in debt, according to the Institute of College Access and Success. As an apprentice, workers can earn close to $40,000 a year and can make $70,000 to $100,000 by the time they are journeymen.

Holt says high- school students aren’t exposed to certificate programs and trade schools. Often, he says, construction work is looked down upon.

“There’s a definite push that you need a college education to do anything,” Holt said. “This is a great living; I have done this since I was 18. I didn’t go to college — college wasn’t for me — and there are a lot of kids like that out there.”

“I know I can do my job”

Monica Confer always felt restless in a classroom. She stopped going to high school when she was 14 and opted for a GED certificate instead.

She held a bunch of jobs as a teenager and in her early 20s, running forklifts for warehouses and spending time in an auction yard. Confer had her son at 19, and the jobs weren’t cutting it.

“I needed better benefits for my son,” said Confer, 38, of Kansas City. “I could not afford insurance making less than $10 an hour.”

College wasn’t an option. She grew up in a union family, and her father’s friend recommended she apply to the Operating Engineers. She started as an apprentice in 2002.

Sometimes when she arrives at a new job site, she said, guys ask if she is the oiler; they’re surprised to see a woman in the operator’s chair.

“I’ve never had any big problems,” Confer said. “I think it used to bother me but I don’t even care anymore. Whatever, I know I can do my job.”

Charlton remembers a time when there were no women in Local 101 but says women now make up of about 20 percent of the workforce.

In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 9.8 million people working in the construction industry. Of those, 872,000 of them, or 8.9 percent, were women.

Confer admits a level of paranoia about safety on the job. She typically wakes up by 4 a.m. to get to a job site about an hour early, especially at a new site. She goes through 20 minutes of safety inspections and gets to know every inch of the machine.

She has gotten home, sat on her couch and panicked about whether she had set the crane’s brake. She’ll climb back into her SUV and drive back to the construction site to double check.

“Everybody sees the crane collapses on the news. I have never been on a job when there’s been a crane accident,” Confer said. “If something were to happen and you hadn’t done your safety checks, that’s your conscience, legalities aside.”

Unstable ground conditions, high gusts of wind and operator error are the leading causes of crane accidents, Charlton said. And with more cranes among denser populations downtown there’s less room for error.

Boom town

Tommy Wilson, an urban planner for the Downtown Council of Kansas City, marks the beginning of the city’s revitalization around 2003 with the approval and planning of the Power & Light District. The boom includes construction of the the Sprint Center, H&R Block’s headquarters and new residential spaces. In 10 years, close to $6.5 billion dollars has been invested into downtown.

Wilson says the streetcar’s construction sparked a second wave of development in 2013, with an additional $1 billion invested along the Main Street route. “Our next step and goal is to make the redevelopment sustainable. Sustainability is having a good residential population that calls this place home,” Wilson says.

He says around 24,500 people live downtown, and that number will grow to nearly 30,000 by 2020.

As more people move downtown, more retail and additional office spaces follow, attracting additional residents — it’s a cycle of growth that Wilson projects will continue.

“This downtown revitalization isn’t just a fun phase we are going through” Wilson says. “We want this growth to continue for decades to come.”

Author: Jacob Gedetsis: 816-234-4416, @jacobgedetsis

Original text and pictures:



Court acquits Phinikoudes death crane operator

Larnaca District Court on Thursday acquitted the operator of a 200-tonne tower crane that fell on to Phinikoudes promenade in October 2012 – killing a 65-year-old woman, injuring three others and damaging five cars – after the prosecution failed to prove the case.

The crane operator, Christos Peristianis, had been charged with causing death through reckless or dangerous acts, omissions of persons responsible for dangerous equipment and negligent acts causing physical harm and serious bodily harm.

In its ruling, the court said was Peristianis was accused on October 10, 2012, by want of precaution or by by rash or careless act not amounting to culpable negligence, of not completely unlocking the crane brake, meaning strong winds caused its fall, resulting in the death of Christine-Marie Coleman and the injury of three other people.

Any person who by want of precaution or by by rash or careless act, not amounting to culpable negligence, unintentionally causes the death of another person is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years, or to a fine not exceeding one €170.

He was also accused of, while he was solely responsible for the crane, having neglected to take the necessary precautions against any possible risk arising from such a motorised machine.

The T-shaped crane- 44-metres in length and 80 metres in width – was part of a construction site managed by a contractor hired by Larnaca municipality to build an extra two floors on top of the town hall on Phinikoudes Avenue. It fell on to the promenade during strong winds averaging between 6 and 9 on Beaufort scale, crashing down on a moving car containing Victor and Christine-Marie Coleman, 65 and 67, who were permanent residents of Vrysoulles village.

The two had to be freed from the mangled car by emergency services before being rushed to hospital. Christine-Marie died at the hospital from multiple injuries including haemorrhages in her brain and lungs, while her husband sustained head and brain injuries and internal cranial haemorrhaging.

A 47-year-old Iranian man lost his finger trying to flee from the falling crane on foot, and a 60-year-old Cypriot pedestrian suffered a fractured hand.

Eye-witness accounts said the crane’s fall was broken by the cars underneath, which changed the direction of the crane as it hit the ground, narrowly missing a kiosk with seven people inside.

The court ruled that prosecution had failed to prove its case against the accused, since it could not prove that Peristianis “did not take all the appropriate action to unlock the crane to rotate with the wind’s direction”. The fact that he was the last person to operate the crane, the ruling said, “does not prove in itself, and especially in a criminal case, which should be beyond reasonable doubt, that he failed to take the necessary precautions, which resulted in the crane falling”.

The court also ruled that the operator had partially unlocked the crane brake and therefore took the appropriate action that requires full unlocking of the brake.

“The accused actually did what the police accused him of failing to do, namely to deactivate the brake”, the ruling said. It added that the operator is not considered responsible because the brake was not fully deactivated.

The court also raised questions over the checks carried out on the crane by its owner and the state electromechanical services on the remote control with which the break was released. It was reported that about 10 months before the accident, the remote control was destroyed by lightning and replaced by one from another machine that was not tested for compatibility.

The new remote control, the court said, did not have an operator’s notification function that the rotation brake was released, and this gap created a breach in the prosecution’s attempt to prove that the operator was guilty. It also said that it took into consideration that the crane was last operated by Peristianis at 10.30am that day, while the accident occurred at 8.30pm.

The court also said that after the accident the crane was stored in the premises of the construction company that owned it instead of being handed over to police. It said that this raised an issue with possible tampering.

Author: Evie Andreou

Original source & photo :

Why Cranes Keep Falling

In the wake of New York City’s latest disaster, crane safety experts weigh in on leading causes of crane collapses.

On February 5, a windy day in Lower Manhattan, a 565-foot crane collapsed and killed a man when it struck the parked car in which he sat. Crews had been planning to secure the Worth Steet crane because the forecast projected sustained winds at stronger than 25 mph, but they were too late.

After the collapse, Mayor Bill de Blasio required crawler cranes, the mobile type of crane that can move around a work site, to cease operation and transition to safety mode anytime there are sustained winds of more than 20 mph or gusts of more than 30 mph forecast in New York City. “No building is worth a person’s life,” de Blasio says. “We are going to ensure the record boom in construction and growth does not come at the expense of safety.”

The fact is, though, that deadly crane crashes are far too common. Some of the largest crane collapses on record have the most devastating effects in big cities, such as a 2008 New York accident that killed seven people and destroyed buildings when a 200-foot-tall crane collapsed. Such events highlight the awesome and scary power of cranes, especially in dense urban areas where these ever-growing machines (record-holders now stand more than 300 feet tall, telescoping to more than 500 feet) work right next to pedestrians and drivers. It’s a recipe for danger if crews aren’t exceedingly careful.

So why does this keep happening?

(Taken from – Read the full article)

Deadly TriBeCa Crane Crash Caused by Operator’s Safety Failures: Feds

LOWER MANHATTAN — The operator of the 565-long crane that crashed in TriBeCa, killing two people in February, had no policy to to ensure proper use of the crane in high winds, and was violating manufacturer protocols at the time of the incident, federal safety investigators found.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration hit Galasso Trucking & Rigging with two “serious” violations, issued on Aug. 3, related to the deadly crash along two city blocks on Feb. 5, ABC News first reported.

Inspectors found that Galasso exposed employees to “hazards associated with crane failure” because they didn’t have policies in place to operate the crane in accordance with the manufacturers’ protocols, according to OSHA violation documents.

(Taken from – Read the full article)