Seattle crane collapse: L&I says pins removed too early during disassembly

The Department of Labor and Industries says the cause of a crane collapse that killed four people in Seattle in April was companies not following the manufacturer’s procedures for dismantling the machinery.

L&I said workers who were taking apart the tower crane in South Lake Union prematurely removed nearly all of the pins and sleeves that helped hold sections of the crane together.

The manufacturer’s procedures say not to remove pins other than the ones for each individual section being dismantled, according to officials.

The nearly six-month investigation by the department said premature removal of the pins and sleeves put too much stress on the crane during windy conditions.  The crane collapsed when it was hit by a 45 mph gust of wind.

>>Photos: Crane collapses in South Lake Union, killing 4

When the pins are in place, tower cranes can withstand much stronger gusts.

The crane at the corner of Mercer Street and Fairview Avenue North collapsed on April 27.

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Previous crane collapse coverage from KIRO 7


Two of the people killed were ironworkers and two others were in cars hit by the crane.  Seattle fire said six cars were crushed.

L&I said it investigated five companies.  Three of those companies, Morrow Equipment, GLY Construction and Northwest Tower Crane Services were cited and fined.

Morrow was cited for not following the crane manufacturer’s procedures, which directly contributed to the collapse. L&I said Morrow approved the removal of the pins. The company was fined $70,000.

GLY Construction was cited for three violations, including not having a qualified supervisor and other employees at the site at all times during the disassembly process. GLY failed to ensure that the manufacturer’s procedures were followed, and did not account for weather conditions, L&I said. GLY was fined $25,200.

Northwest Tower Crane Services was cited for three violations, including not following the manufacturer’s procedures, not ensuring workers understood their duties, and inadequate training of workers. They face $12,000 in fines.

Watch coverage of the collapse in the videos below.

Breaking KIRO 7 coverage of the collapse

Timelapse video from camera on top of the Space Needle

Seattle crane collapse from Space Needle cam

SEATTLE CRANE COLLAPSE: This camera from the Space Needle takes images every 10 minutes, and helps pinpoint the time the crane fell. DETAILS >> LIVESTREAM >>

Posted by KIRO 7 News on Saturday, April 27, 2019