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Three Firms Charged $107K For Crane Collapse

Seattle is dense with cranes as commercial real estate continues to soar.

Three construction companies have been fined a total of $107,000 for the fatal crane collapse that occurred on April 27 in South Lake Union.

A Department of Labor and Industries investigation found that pins and sleeves were prematurely removed from the crane during disassembly, contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions. The premature removal of the pins made the crane unstable. It toppled over during a 45 mph wind gust, killing two construction workers and two people in cars on Mercer Street

The crane was being used to construct a Google building at the corner of Mercer Street and Fairview Avenue.

Morrow Equipment, the crane equipment supplier, approved the removal of the pins. That company was fined $70K and was cited for one willful serious violation for not following the crane manufacturer’s procedures, an action that directly contributed to the collapse. A willful violation occurs when an employer ignores legal requirements or is indifferent to employee safety.

GLY Construction, which leased the crane from Morrow, was fined $25K and cited for three serious violations that include not having a qualified supervisor on-site during disassembly, not ensuring that the manufacturer’s procedures were followed and not accounting for weather conditions.

Northwest Tower Crane Services was fined $12,K for not following manufacturer’s instructions, not ensuring workers understood what to do and inadequate training. 

In a statement, GLY said it had cooperated with the investigation and has already made changes to prevent another tragedy. 

Even before the investigation was finished,  safety experts that viewed the footage of the crane collapse suspected the pins were removed. The end of the regulator's investigation opens the door for family members of the deceased to pursue legal action.