Causes of Fatal Accidents Involving Cranes in the Australian Construction Industry

Ehsan Gharaie
Helen Lingard
Tracy Cooke


In ten years from 2004 to 2013, 359 workers died in the Australian construction industry because of work related causes. This paper investigates crane-related fatalities in order to find the upstream causation of such accidents. The National Coroners’ Information System (NCIS) database was searched to identify fatal accidents in the construction industry involving the use of a crane.  The narrative description of the cases provided in the coroners’ findings and associated documents were content analysed to identify the contributing causal factors within the context of each case. The findings show that the most frequent crane-related accident types were those that were struck by load, and electrocution. The most prevalent immediate circumstance causes were layout of the site and restricted space. The two most commonly identified shaping factors were physical site constraints and design of construction process. Inadequate risk management system was identified as the main originating influence on the accidents. This paper demonstrates that a systemic causation model can provide considerable insight into how originating influences, shaping factors, and immediate circumstances combine to produce accidents. This information is extremely useful in informing the development of prevention strategies, particularly in the case of commonly occurring accident types.


Cranes, accident causation, immediate circumstances, shaping factors, originating influences

Full Text: