The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Kaverit Steel and Crane $6,000 following a crane collapse in Oregon, USA that killed Kaverit technician Mile Obradovic in April. Kaverit is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Morris Material Handling Inc.

An OSHA statement blamed the construction of the crane for the accident. ‘The failure occurred because the crane was not properly designed to the owner’s specifications, standard industry practice and industry-accepted engineering principles.’

The $840,000 rail-mounted gantry crane, capacity 54t, was designed with a span of 33m and hook height of 17m above the rails. It was built over a river barge quay.

The gantry crane consisted of two A-framed legs mounted to the undersides of two horizontal box girders. On the eastern side, the A-frame leg was attached by a hinge to the main girder and carried the operator cab about 11m above the rail. On the other side another support beam linked the girders to the base.

‘The accident happened as a result of a sudden stop on the track,’ Kaverit general manager Lorne Nakonechny told Cranes Today. ‘It was a tragic and unfortunate accident.’

According to OSHA area director Carl Halgren, the inertia of the horizontal girders broke the bolts connecting them to the legs. Then the girders rotated, and one fell off its support and struck the cab-side legs, forcing a leg into the cab and crushing the technician to death.

Halgren’s report concluded, ‘The crane lacked sufficient lateral-load resisting stability as it was designed.’

Nakonechny admitted to Cranes Today that the crane should not have collapsed as a result of the sudden stop, but the reason why it failed, and why it stopped, was unclear. ‘The exact reason will probably never be known,’ Nakonechny said.

Earlier in the day, the crane, which is driven by electric drive motors, had passed low-speed travel tests, but they did get a trouble code when running high-speed tests. ‘It could have been resistance in the wheel, an electrical issue – we haven’t been able to determine what it was,’ Nakonechny said.

‘We recognize the OSHA investigation was not conclusive and we have taken their advice and incorporated that into all of our new equipment. In general we’ve revised review procedures for all our engineering and also added more detail to all of our quality assurance stages,’ Nakonechny said.

He added that the OSHA investigation had overlooked items, and consequently had reduced the fine by $1,000. Halgren disputes that claim. ‘They are entitled to say that but that’s not true,’ he said. ‘They accepted the citation. By accepting it, they agree with it or perhaps they feel they don’t want to contest it,’ he added. The fine was reduced ‘purely for settlement purposes.’ ‘My guess is that we would have spent more than $1,000 litigating the thing.’ Halgren said that Kaverit accepted the citation in mid-November, and he was expecting payment by the end of the month.

This month construction begins on Kaverit’s replacement crane, with a longer wheelbase and more structural support, according Lisa Mittelsdorf, director of economic development at the Port of Morrow.