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The Kansas City Star reported that one man was killed and another critically injured when a boom lift or crane toppled over this afternoon at the site of Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.

A construction accident at the future home of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts killed one man and critically injured a second this afternoon.

A portable boom lift with a basket on top toppled over about 1:45 p.m. just north of the building under construction at 16th Street and Broadway. Both workers were in the basket before it plummeted about 50 feet to the pavement, said Kyle McQuiston with J.E. Dunn Construction Co.

The workers apparently fell from the basket on the way down, police said.

The injured workers were taken to area hospitals. One died at the hospital, Kansas City police said. The other was conscious in serious condition this afternoon, police said.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these workers. Construction workers rely on their equipment to protect them and no worker should be forced to face the danger of falling to their death.

One has to ask — why do these crane accidents keep happening? There was a crane collapse in Westin, Missouri just last year. In that collapse, one worker was killed and three other workers were injured. There have been similar crane and boom lift accidents in Oklahoma City, in Florida, and in Philadelphia.

In my work, I see far too many deaths from crane accidents and lift accidents. Each of these deaths or injuries was easily and tragically preventable.

In a recent case we handled, a repairman was working on a similar type crane/boom lift. The repairman extended the boom to test his repair and the crane suddenly tipped over, crushing and killing him. Why don’t these manufacturers implement simple safety measures to prevent tragedies like this from happening?

Instead of fixing the problems, these cranes and lifts are often designed without adequate safety protections. For example, in our recent case, the crane was not equipped with a device that prevented the boom from being extended without the outriggers being firmly locked in place. Many other cranes had a safety device that would have prevented the accident, but the crane manufacturer decided it was wasn’t worth the cost.

The news report was unclear as to the cause of the crane accident at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. But is makes you wonder. Could the boom extend without the outriggers deployed to stabilize the crane? Was the crane situated on uneven ground? Was the lift maintained correctly? Did the hydraulics fail? Remarkably, none of the other co-workers saw the crane tip over. Why?

You can learn more about dangeorus and defect products — including cranes and lifts — at our safety blog or at our web site.

Learn more and become a fan of Langdon & Emison on Facebook.


  1. Gravatar for brian watson

    I have worked for J.E. Dunn in the past and worked on these boom lifts, Dunn follows osha saftey procedures in requiring harnesses to be worn by anyone riding these lifts. It has always been my concern that, when the lanyard is attached to the basket it can prevent a fatalfall when leaning out to do work where you may slip and fall out of the basket. However as the requirment mandates that the lanyard be secured to the basket at all times if the lift itself tips over it prohidits you from being able to jump from the basket to a secure point such as in this case these men may have been able to jump or grab onto the deck or steel they were securing the sheet metal to. The mandated wearing of the lanyard leaves them only the option of being drug down with the lift.

  2. Gravatar for Michael McCann

    I am concerned about the confusion in the media between crane and aerial lift accidents. Aerial lifts are used to elevate personnel, whereas cranes are predominantly used to lift materials (although some cranes can have manbaskets to lift personnel). In construction, there are about 42 crane-related and 26 aerial lift-related deaths per year.

  3. Gravatar for Jeff

    Hmm, seems we have many "experts" chiming in now.

    First, the welder someone identified in the basket/platform is a JLG factory product called SkyWelder. It eliminates dangerous leads that often get entangled in the lift or a passing vehicle that can pull a lift over. See it at

    Second, if the platform is overloaded this machine will not extend or go up, but will only retract or go down. This machine, like many others of its kind, “knows” the weight in the platform.

    Third, the harness/lanyard comment about not being hooked to the platform when a tip over occurs and having the option to jump off if the lift tips. REALLY!!! That only happens in Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. I doubt very much that in real life anyone would have the presence of mind to jump and even then jump where. Most people would just white knuckle the rails until it hit the ground. The real purpose of the harness/lanyard is NOT fall protection but catapult protection. It is supposed to keep you inside the protection of the guardrails (THE fall protection) should the machine catapult you up and out. Most catapults are the result of driving too fast and/or driving one wheel into a depression or up and down a curb. If you want to see a video of this go to and roll your mouse over “Publications” the click on drop down “Film” click on “Only dummies don’t where harnesses on a booms”

    Fourth, while this accident is tragic and we to extend our sorrow to the families for their loss, tip-overs of aerial lifts are pretty rare, especially boom type lifts.

  4. Gravatar for Facebook User

    Seems like Jeff thinks he's an expert. My lanyard isnt fall protection? While i agree you are half right about it being catupult also to keep you from falling out of your basket while you are working..doesnt that make it fall protection. Jumping out is certainly not much of an option. From what i understand these recent deaths were caused by driving with the boom in the air which my company prohibits. I feel perfectly safe i work everyday fully extended on 120's and 125's.

  5. Gravatar for Jeff

    I'm not the one who says it is not fall protection, the manufacturers state it as fall restraint. They claim that the purpose is to keep you in the platform. Personal Fall Protection prevents you from hitting the ground, not from falling. Guardrails prevent a fall from happening which lifts have. How can you fall out of the platform, unless you gain additional height by standing on something which you are forbidden from doing. You are right about driving elevated though, while they are designed to drive elevated it is a scary thing to do.

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