Work Accidents | Product Liability

Fatal Crane Accident in Macon May Be the Result of a Negligent Design

Employees of the Rosson Sign Company were in the process of replacing a Quality Inn sign in West Macon on the morning of July 16th, when an apparent malfunction caused their crane to drop the sign from a significant height. Three of the employees were seriously injured in the impact and taken to a nearby medical center, where one of them was pronounced dead.

His name was Johnny Stewart, and he had graduated from high school and begun his work at Rosson a matter of days before the accident. He had received a $500 scholarship to Oconee Fall Line Technical College, where he was expected to study welding. Doctors were able to stabilize the condition of both of his coworkers, though one was listed as “critical” upon arrival at the medical center.

Representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) responded to the scene, though the results of their investigation are not yet public.

Work Involving Boom Trucks Can Easily Turn Deadly

Boom trucks — the type of truck-mounted commercial crane the Rosson employees were using — require specialized certification to operate. Like any piece of heavy machinery, or any task that involves lifting large objects overhead, the slightest problem that arises when using a boom truck can have devastating consequences.

OSHA recorded 15 separate accidents involving boom trucks in 2019 alone, all but two of them resulting in at least one fatality. The recorded incidents included crushing accidents similar to the one at the Quality Inn, falls from deadly heights, electrocutions on contact with power lines and transformers, and a few cases of workers being struck by the moving boom or run over by the truck’s wheels.

Companies that use boom trucks should always make sure that their operators are properly qualified, that all workers on site are trained and supported in following safety procedures, and that the equipment is in good condition.

The Quality Inn Accident Appears to Have Been a Failure of the Boom Truck Itself

While most recorded boom truck accidents are attributed to misuse, law enforcement investigating the Quality Inn accident scene found that Stewart’s death was the result of an equipment failure.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Rosson played no role in the accident; the company’s maintenance of the boom truck, or lack thereof, may have been a factor. However, if the equipment was serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, and this accident was still able to occur, then the boom truck’s manufacturer is responsible for Stewart’s death. Even if Rosson’s maintenance schedule was imperfect, the manufacturer may still share liability for selling a product that was unnecessarily dangerous under common, real-world circumstances.

Employers and Equipment Providers Are Both Responsible for Worker Safety

Whether the boom truck’s failure was due to a design flaw, a manufacturing error, neglect on Rosson’s part, or poorly executed maintenance by a third-party contractor, Stewart’s family likely has a case for wrongful death. The nature of his untimely death indicates a failure by someone, at his company or in its supply chain, who had a duty to keep him safe.

If you too have lost a loved one to a negligent employer, The Stoddard Firm can help.