US Department of Labor investigation of crane collapse, double fatality on Interstate 10 finds Lufkin company failed to assemble crane properly
BEAUMONT, TX – A Lufkin contractor’s failure to assemble a crane boom properly caused the crane to collapse onto a passing vehicle on Interstate 10 near Beaumont, killing the two occupants in April 2021.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined Hemphill WBE Pile Driving Co. Inc. was installing supports for an elevated section of the highway at the time of the incident. OSHA found the operator failed to determine the correct weight of the load while using the crane to retrieve a helmet box and hammer driven 3 feet into the ground. The incorrectly assembled boom buckled and landed on the vehicle.
OSHA cited the company for three willful and two serious violations, including operating a crane beyond its rated load capacity and failing to assemble the boom properly. The company faces $212,599 in proposed penalties.
“Two people died senselessly because Hemphill Pile Driving failed to follow assembly instructions and federal regulations. They endangered their employees and every person driving on this section of Interstate 10,” said OSHA Area Director Mark Briggs in Houston. “Employers are responsible for ensuring they follow safety and health rules and conduct operations in a manner that keeps workers and others safe.”
Incorporated in 1989, Hemphill WBE Pile Driving Co. Inc. specializes in pile driving. The contractor has approximately 11 employees.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.