Thank "lax oversight" and "human error" for the recent carnage in Bellevue.
The P-I article State maintains little oversight of cranes; rush to build, training cited discusses the compromises we make to feed unbridled development:
Tower cranes such as the one that toppled last week in Bellevue are in such high demand the construction industry can't scramble fast enough to hire operators and mechanics to run and service the massive structures.
That fact, coupled with the long hours logged to get projects done fast, means accidents such as Thursday's deadly crane collapse are becoming more common, experts warned Monday.
But one thing is becoming apparent: Washington state has been lax in the oversight of crane operation. Unlike other states, Washington doesn't require crane operators to have a license. And it does not routinely inspect cranes to make sure they are installed properly.
The building boom of recent years has fueled a frantic demand for crane operators, many of whom are scarcely out of training school before winning their first well-paying jobs. Against that backdrop, a person who has received only a few hours of training and passed a written exam might easily find himself manning the cab of a 300-ton crane, Barth said.
"The industry is growing so fast -- I mean really fast -- and it's hard to find a crane mechanic," said Barth, who won't recommend a single crane operating school in this country. He sends anyone who is interested to Canada.
Washington state inspectors found at least 26 companies and one state agency have violated a total of 40 crane-safety standards in 2004 and 2005, according to an L&I health and safety violations database obtained by the P-I. Inspectors deemed at least 33 of the violations as "serious" -- offenses that garnered fines ranging from $100 to $6,500.
In the Bellevue collapse, Warren Taylor Yeakey, a Ness Cranes employee who was operating the crane, walked away from the fall with minor injuries.
Following the accident, Ness Cranes ordered a drug test for Yeakey, but the company refused to disclose the results Monday. Yeakey has numerous felony drug convictions in Western Washington and was sent into a treatment program in 2000, records show.
Despite the mayhem caused by the crane collapse in Bellevue, it looks like the developers are set to get going again in a matter of days. Gotta feed the development machine...