Companies fined more than $100K for crane collapse that killed North Bend man

L&I determined it was a strong wind gust and removed crane pins that led to the deaths of four.

Three companies were cited a total of $107,200 for safety violations after a crane collapsed in Seattle killing four, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced Oct. 17.

The highest fine among the violations was a $70,000 citation against Morrow Equipment, for a willful serious violation of not following the crane manufacturer’s procedures. A willful violation is described as an employer who “knowingly ignored a legal requirement or was indifferent to employee safety,” L&I said.

Morrow approved removing pins and sleeves that fastened the tower together, while the manufacturer’s procedures called for only removing the pins for each individual section being dismantled. Nearly all of the about 50 pins and sleeves were removed, and when the 45-plus mile per hour gust hit, the crane toppled.

The accident took place on April 27, on the streets of Fairview Avenue and Mercer Street, the Seattle Fire Department reported. The department responded at about 3:28 p.m. after the crane fell from the roof of a building and damaged six cars in total.

There were four fatalities as a result of the accident. Two of the victims were in the crane, the other two in separate cars. Four others were injured and evaluated by medics. Ironworker Andrew Yoder, of North Bend, was one of four people killed.

Three others were injured as a result of the accident and transported with non-life threatening injuries to Haborview Medical Center in Seattle— a 27-year-old male, 25-year-old female and four-month infant.

Soon after the accident, L&I opened an investigation to look into the factors surrounding the crane collapse at Google’s campus in Seattle.

In its inquiry, the department gathered information from the site of the accident. L&I investigators measured the accident scene to determine where pieces of the crane landed and looked at the crane itself.

The five companies under scrutiny were: Gall Landau Young Construction Company Inc. (GLY), Northwest Tower Crane Service Inc., Omega Rigging and Machinery Moving Inc., Morrow Equipment Company LLC. and Seaburg Construction Corporation.

L&I cited GLY construction for three serious violations and fined it $25,200. The company allegedly failed to have a qualified supervisor and other personnel onsite at all times as the crane disassembly was happening, failed to account for weather and did not ensure manufacturer’s procedures were followed.

Northwest Tower Crane Services faces $12,000 in fines for three serious violations of not following manufacturer’s procedures, not ensuring workers understood their assigned duties and inadequate worker training.

The employers have 15 business days to appeal the citation. Seaburg Construction and Omega Rigging and Machinery were not cited.