This year alone, at least 18 people have died in construction crane-related accidents around the country, and with the growth of our area, more cranes are popping up at construction sites. WWAY spoke with a local man who's worked in the crane industry for more than 20 years. He says many of the accidents come from human error and bad weather. Two crane accidents happened just a few months apart in Manhattan. A tower crane topples over last week in Texas. Several cranes already stand at the site of downtown Wilmington's new convention center. We know cranes play an important role in getting the job done, but how can you keep a crane from collapsing? Jamie Ezzell, general manager of Edwards Wilmington Inc., said, "Inspect your equipment, have good equipment and have good qualified operators." Edwards Wilmington Incorporated is a crane and operator rental company. "Weather has a lot to do with accidents -- unexpected storms," said Ezzell. "And a lot of it is people on site just not being prepared." Ezzell said, "A lot of accidents they have are the cranes are not set up properly -- missing pins, bolts, cables." Edwards' operators check their cranes every day. Once a year, the cranes are inspected by a 3rd party, and every 4 years the crane's capacity is tested. "They actually come in and do load tests and that actually exceeds the safe load capacity of the cranes to make sure it can do what it's made to do," said Ezzell. To prevent weather related crane accidents, the operators rely on the forecast. "Making sure if there are storms coming in you have all your high lifts or big bulky loads done in the mornings so in the afternoons when the winds are high you are prepared, everything's tied down, nothings going to go anywhere," said Ezzell. More construction, means more cranes, and more of a chance something could go wrong. "It could happen here," said Ezzell. "However, we try to do a lot of things to make sure that doesn't happen." North Carolina is one of 35 states that do not require that crane operators be licensed, though many crane companies like Edwards do hire only licensed operators.
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