The aftermath of a crane counterweight striking a section of an Atlanta apartment building during construction. Photo: Courtesy of Atlanta Fire Rescue.
No one was seriously injured and the building damage was contained to a small area and construction resumed May 31, but a tower crane accident in Atlanta May 22 demonstrates the potential hazards posed by counterweights when something goes wrong.
Counterweights on a Potain MR415 crane dislodged and struck the garage deck at the 1018 West Peachtree apartment site downtown, according to a statement by Balfour Beatty, the project’s general contractor.
Four workers were treated for injuries at a hospital and released the same day. But the other impacts of the mishap are longer lasting.
Firefighters evacuated all buildings within a one-block radius of the site after the incident and at least one building remained closed to residents until May 31. Work was also shut down for days as contractors, crane experts, structural engineers, staff of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and local officials developed a plan to dismantle the crane.
Before the crane could be dismantled, debris needed to be secured. The crane has been dismantled down to the tower mast, according to Balfour Beatty. And construction resumed May 31, with a priority on localized repairs.
OSHA has initiated an investigation, the company said in a statement. Balfour Beatty had signed a strategic partnership with the agency for this project last year, according to an OSHA announcement, to prevent worker injuries and exposure to hazards.
The project ranked No. 30 on ENR Southeast’s 2022 Top Starts with a cost of $227.2 million. The plan calls for construction of a 1.2-million-sq-ft mixed-use development with a 35-story student housing tower and a 37-story multifamily tower for owner Toll Brothers, according to designer WDG. In early May, the project team celebrated the topping out, according to structural engineer SK&A. The project is scheduled to complete next year.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said during a press conference that it was “very fortunate that only four individuals had non-life-threatening injuries.”
There have been several recent cases of fatal incidents involving crane counterweights. In August 2020, a crane inspector was struck by a moving counterweight on a Flatiron Constructors bridge project in Rodanthe, N.C., according to OSHA records.
In 2019, a worker was killed when 7.5-metric-ton counterweight segments came loose from rigging during crane assembly at a New York City construction site, ENR previously reported.
Deputy Editor Richard Korman helps run ENR’s business and legal news and investigations, selects ENR’s commentary and oversees editorial content on ENR.com. In 2023 the American Society of Business Publication Editors awarded Richard the Stephen Barr Award, the highest honor for a single feature story or investigation, for his story on the aftermath of a terrible auto crash in Kentucky in 2019, and in 2015 the American Business Media awarded him the Timothy White Award for investigations of surety fraud and workplace bullying. A member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Richard has been a fellow on drone safety with the McGraw Center for Business Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. Richard’s freelance writing has appeared in the Seattle Times, the New York Times, Business Week and the websites of The Atlantic and Salon.com. He admires construction projects that finish on time and budget, compensate all team members fairly and record zero fatalities or serious injuries.
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