CONSTRUCTION CRANE ACCIDENTS AND COMPENSATION FOR RESULTING INJURIES

Anyone that has been seriously injured in a crane accident, may be entitled to monetary compensation if the accident was as a result of someone else’s negligence.

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

5/27/20220 min read

CONSTRUCTION CRANE ACCIDENTS AND COMPENSATION FOR RESULTING INJURIES

Cranes are an important part of the construction process. Unfortunately, cranes also cause many accidents which result to injuries and even death. Anyone that has been seriously injured in a crane accident, may be entitled to monetary compensation if the accident was as a result of someone else’s negligence.

WHAT THEN ARE CRANES?

The crane is a mechanism that uses a series of simple machines to both raise and lower objects, and they also move horizontally. Cranes lift and move heavy objects; lifting tackle is suspended from a pivoted boom that rotates around a vertical axis. They are always equipped with at least one coil, cables, ropes or chains, and pulleys.

There are so many things that can go wrong when a crane is involved. Some of them are:

  • Electrocutions.

Most electrocutions occur when the crane boom or cable accidentally contacts an overhead power line. These sorts of accidents generally involve mobile cranes. Struck by crane loads.

  • Struck By Crane load

Injuries generally occur when a load comes loose from the rigging, the load strikes the worker when the crane turns or tilts, or the load comes loose while being loaded or unloaded.

  • Crane collapse.

Most fatalities from crane collapses involve an unstable, uneven, or icy surface. In other cases, the crane simply collapses as a result being overloaded.

  • Struck By Crane Boom or Jib.

Most of these injuries occur when workers are dismantling the boom — specifically when the pins holding the boom sections together are removed without adequate support to prevent the sections from falling.

However, these accidents don’t just happen by chance.

Some factors usually contribute to making the crane accident prone. Some are:

  • Overloading

  • Improper Dismantling of a Crane

  • Control Confusion

  • Hoist Limitations

  • Improper Assembly of a Crane

  • Rigging Failure

  • Over steering

  • Crane coming in contact with a power line

When a crane collapses, the results can be catastrophic given the size of most cranes and the heavy loads they move. Crane accidents commonly result in death or serious injuries, including: Traumatic brain injuries, Spinal cord injuries, Amputations

Those Liable for a crane accident are:

  • Manufacturer of the crane

  • Company using the crane

  • Corporation that owns the site where the crane is being used

Crane accidents usually cause catastrophic injuries. There are legal options to recover medical expenses for those involved in a crane accident. Monetary compensation can be sought due to crane accidents. A victim can file a claim for:

  • Medical Bills

  • Permanent Disability

  • Loss of Spousal or Parental Relationships

  • Lost Wages

  • Decreased Earning Capacity

  • Pain and Suffering

  • Permanent Scarring

  • Fatalities: Funeral & Burial Expenses

Construction companies usually suffer setbacks on construction site due to injury or death of an employee. In most cases, where these injuries or death are not handled properly (usually due to lack of legal knowledge) they are capable of leading to the insolvency of a company, as the company would be dragged left right and center by litigation and non-compliance fines. Hence employers should be aware of the legal framework regulating employment in Nigeria and the construction industry as a whole.

In Nigeria employers are under obligation to pay compensation in terms of wages and allowances as prescribed under law (See Section 15 of the Labour Act). Apart from remuneration, employers are under obligation to take reasonable measures to ensure health and safety of its employee in the workplace. But, it is even more stringent for construction companies and related businesses to ensure they protect their employees on and off the construction on jobsite. This is due to the fact construction site are prone to all sorts of risks and no matter the amount of preventive measures taken, these accidents do happen and could lead to partial or permanent disability or even death. It is to this end that the Nigerian government through various legislation have made employee compensation a focal point of the construction industry.

Employee compensation in the construction industry exceeds payment of salaries and wages in exchange for services provided. It extends to compensations for any death, injury, disease or disability arising out of or in the course of employment; and for related matters.

Employee compensation in the construction industry is essential to cater for the health and wellbeing of all employees on site, to ensure that in the event of an injury or death, the injured employee and his beneficiaries would be adequately provided for.

The laws that provide for the compensation for injuries are: ·

EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION ACT

Section 33(1) of the Employee Compensation Act 2010, provides that every employer with more than 5 employees or with a turnover of 50,000,000 (fifty million) Naira annually must contribute 1.0% of its total monthly payroll to the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

The purpose of this fund is to care for employees injured in the course of employment or who suffers any disabling injury arising from the employment. It also extends to employees who sustain any accident or injury while on their way between the place of work and the employer’s primary or secondary place of work, the place he takes meals or receives remuneration (Section 7(1&2) of the Employee Compensation Act 2010).

INDUSTRIAL TRAINING FUND ACT

The Nigerian government through the Industrial Training Fund ensures the compensation of employees by mandating every employer to contribute 1% of its total annual payroll (See Section 3(a) of the Industrial Fund Act) for the promotion, and acquisition of skills in the area of industry and commerce to generate a pool of indigenous manpower, sufficient to meet the needs of the private and public sector of the economy. Training of employees in the construction industry is an essential part of employee retention and better efficiency. Well informed workers also leads to little or no injuries on site which contributes to the overall development of the company.

More importantly, construction companies and related businesses who desire to bid for federal government and even Non-Governmental Organizations usually make it a condition precedent to show evidence of PENCOM Certificate for the year. This is supported by Section 6(2) of the Pension Reform Act.

INSURANCE ACT

Section 64 of the Insurance Act 2003, provides that construction of buildings above two floors must be insured, which may result in bodily injury or loss of life to or damage to property of any workman on the site or of any member of the public. Most buildings, civil works, public private partnership contracts between the government and construction companies and related businesses, insist on purchasing Employers’ Liability Insurance, to protect the health and safety of workers on site. Other forms of insurance include, Third Party Liability which is usually specifically named in most Request for Proposals (RFP) as condition precedents to the award of contract.

PENSION REFORM ACT

The Nigerian government is very particular about the compensation of employees during and after retirement from employment. Hence, the Pension Reform Act was enacted to cater for this aspect of employee compensation in both public and private organizations. To this end, a Contributory Pension Scheme for payment of retirement benefits of employees in any form of employment in Nigeria was created. Therefore, every employer and employee in the private sector (for example construction companies) must contribute minimum of 7.5% of its monthly emoluments, with a pension fund administrator (See Section 9(1) of the Pension Reform Act).

Also, all employers with more than 5 employees must maintain a group life insurance policy for all its employees (See 9(3) of the Pension Reform Act). This is to ensure that in the event of the death of an employee, the beneficiaries of the deceased can be catered for.

TRADE UNION ACT

Trade Union refers to the combination of workers or employers whether temporary or permanent, purpose of which is to regulate the terms and conditions of employers and workers, with a view to seeking the welfare and providing benefits to its members.

Trade Unions are an integral part of the Nigerian construction industry. It is supported by the Trade Union Act 2004 and Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which provides for the right to peaceful assembly and association. Although, there has been a practice of employers (including the government) failing to honour Trade agreements, on the ground that they are gentlemen agreement, no one can disagree that these trade unions are powerful enough to cripple activities on a construction site, in other to demand for certain rights and benefits. Actions of trade unions can have a devastating effect on the construction schedule that can inadvertently affect the overall construction process, if not handled properly.

The most notable trade union in the Nigerian construction industry is the National Joint Industrial Council. Presently, it has branches in 100 construction companies and related businesses across Nigeria. It has some prominent associations under its umbrella such as The Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association (CCESSA), Nigeria Union of Construction and Civil Engineering Workers (NUCCEW), National Union of Civil Engineering Construction Furniture and Woodworkers (NUCECFWW). These sub-unions are regulated by their agreements which are also signed and domesticated by member construction companies. These agreements serve as a yard stick for employee internal conditions of service, welfare and benefits.

In Conclusion, Construction is a major sector in Nigeria and so, majority of the labour force of the country venture into this sector. Therefore, a lot of attention must be given to it; the safety of the workers and their entire well-being to ensure maximum results.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

EMAIL: chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

TEL: 08065553671, 08024230080