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Crane collapse a grim reminder of the dangers of construction work

Although safety standards have improved significantly over the past half-century, construction and demolition continue to be among the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Those who spend their careers on construction sites go to work each day knowing that one wrong move could result in serious injury or even death.

Construction workers here in Colorado and across the country were given a grim reminder of that danger last week. News outlets reported that a construction crane collapsed in New York City, killing one person and injuring at least three others.

According to news sources, the collapse occurred near the beginning of the work day. Strong winds prompted the operators of the crane to start the process of lowering and securing it, as required by city ordinance. But the giant crane toppled over before it could be secured.

In this particular case, none of the victims were construction workers. The 38-year-old man who died worked for a trading firm on Wall Street, and the three injured victims were all bystanders. Their injuries were caused by falling debris.

Although workers were not injured or killed in this accident, many NYC construction workers have been injured and killed in a spate of crane collapses that began in 2008. Since that time, there have been at least five fatal crane collapses in the city (not including this most recent one).

The risks and consequences of accidents are almost always higher when construction sites are located in densely populated urban areas. In light of this, New York is one of the most dangerous places to build. But construction workers here in Denver face similar hazards on certain jobs.

Although construction work is inherently risky, equipment collapse is not a scenario that can simply be dismissed as "the cost of doing business." Negligence often plays a role in cases like this. And when it does, injured workers may be able to sue third parties (such as crane owners) in addition to collecting workers compensation benefits.

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