Downtown cranes have some questioning safety of construction sit - WSMV Channel 4

Downtown cranes have some questioning safety of construction sites

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A construction accident earlier this week has some questioning how safe cranes and other equipment really are.

Construction cranes can be seen from pretty much any corner of downtown Nashville. After part of a crane fell on a worker, seriously injuring him, the Channel 4 I-Team wanted to know what’s being done to make sure people stay safe during all the construction.

Before this accident, a man contacted Channel 4 in December after he said he saw a crane spinning so fast due to wind, he thought it was going to fall.

Hank Bonecutter has lived in Nashville all his life. He remembers downtown before all the cranes. For years he owned a condo right in Printers Alley across from what will soon be Nashville’s newest boutique hotel.

He sold the condo in December. His last night in the condo, he said he watched a crane spin around for hours.

"Well, I’ll tell you, there's nothing spookier than watching a crane spinning like a top in downtown Nashville,” Bonecutter said.

He was so spooked by it he called police to report it.

“I am wondering if you've had any calls from anyone downtown about this crane over here on Printers Alley. I live right across the street and it's just blowing to beat the band, and it’s just spinning like hell,” Bonecutter told a dispatch operator when he called 911 non-emergency.

The I-Team has learned this isn't the first time someone has called police regarding a crane downtown.

In December, another person concerned about the crane just up the street at 505 Church Street also called police.

"There is a metal railing hanging by a thread from the tarpaulin that's about to blow loose that could potentially drop 20 floors over a public street,” the caller told a 911 dispatcher.

He then went on to say, “Oh, there goes one down now. Oh [expletive], wow!”

The same man called back a day later.

“There is a piece of railing about to fall on Church Street hanging only from a piece of plastic 24 stories above Church Street dangling in the breeze right now. The officers are currently in their patrol cars driving that way,” he said.

Fast forward to this week, when a man working on the 35th floor of the same building was hit in the head by a heavy pulley that fire officials say fell from a crane above.

“I've got a guy down. The crane, the crane had come down on top of him. He's in a great deal of pain. I don't know what’s going on with him but I need an ambulance,” one of the victims’ co-workers said in a 911 call.

"Tennessee OSHA uses a set of guidelines in an act that is supposed to keep employees safe on the job,” said Chris Cannon with the Department of Labor, which oversee TOSHA.

The I-Team has learned in 2016, TOSHA investigated 17 fatal construction accidents statewide. Five of those were in Nashville.

"I mean some of these cranes down here, I don't know what it would take to blow one over. You just keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer,” Bonecutter said.

But IDC Construction superintendent Michael Head, who oversees the hotel construction Bonecutter called about, said while it may look scary, it's actually perfectly safe. He said the crane is designed to spin in order to prevent it from locking up.

“When people see the cranes spinning, is there a reason to be concerned? Absolutely not. Nothing will fall on you. We have everything secure and everything at night is nailed down, patted down and strapped down basically,” Head said.

TOSHA is still investigating the accident from Monday. The investigation could take up to eight weeks. The worker who was hit in the head is expected to survive.

Anyone who sees something that looks unsafe on a construction site is asked to report it to TOSHA by calling 1-800-325-9901.

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