Injury prevention

OSHA's most interesting cases

What happened – and lessons learned


OSHA's most interesting cases Page 4 of 4

Case #3: Crane collapse

A pair of brothers were killed when a crane boom collapsed on their truck along Interstate 10 near Beaumont, TX.

The employer, a pile driving company, was contracted to install supports for an elevated section of the highway, part of an I-10 expansion. On April 22, 2021, employees were attempting to drive a concrete piling into the ground but were unsuccessful. 

Before moving on to attempt another pile driving, the employees had to retrieve a piece of equipment out of the ground with the crane. The crane’s boom, however, wasn’t configured according to the manufacturer’s specifications. A 40-foot section was in the wrong place. 

Vo said the company chose not to reconfigure the crane to save time and money. 

“[The company’s] owner said he used his configuration multiple times and never encountered any problems,” Vo added. “He believed his configuration would be as good as the manufacturer’s. He was wrong. Putting the 40-foot section [in the wrong spot] made the crane boom weaker and vulnerable to collapse.”

Additionally, the company miscalculated – by nearly 5,000 pounds – the weight the crane was trying to lift. Further, the employees were trying to “side pull” a load instead of lifting it straight up, a technique that Vo said is prohibited by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The side pulling, the miscalculated weight and the misconfigured crane boom all contributed to the deadly collapse.

OSHA actions: The agency issued five citations (three willful and two serious) and fines totaling $212,599. After an informal settlement, the citations were changed to two willful and two serious violations, while the fines were reduced to $77,824.


Always follow safety instructions from the manufacturer’s operation manual, including crane assembly. Contact the manufacturer for consultation, if needed.

Properly calculate the weight being lifted and only pick up objects that are directly under the crane boom – no side pulling. 

Remember that even if you perform a task multiple times without 
incident, that doesn’t mean it’s a safe operation. 

Always follow OSHA and industry-recognized standards.

Case closed

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