Cranes are incredibly efficient pieces of equipment when it comes to lifting heavy loads, but they can create a serious safety issue if misused. Following basic safety instructions can help keep the operators, bystanders, and the equipment unharmed and undamaged.
How to Ensure Crane Safety
Butch Kuykendall, a National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) certified bellman and rigger for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) local 302 said, "The most important safety tip is to make sure there are no power lines in the area that you plan on hoisting and operating in." Kuykendall explained further, "Make sure you have plenty of space between the area that you plan on working on and the power line." He referred to this as the "isolation barrier."
If you operate a crane, or have hired individuals to do so, there are a few tips to keep in mind so everyone stays as safe as possible. The International Association of Drilling Contractors recommend:
- Using the load chart properly to ensure the crane lifts only what it is capable of
- Using a load indicating device so you know exactly how heavy the load is
- Using outriggers to keep the crane balanced even during small lifts
- Never leaving the crane when a load is suspended as it poses a huge potential safety risk
- Turning the crane off before leaving the crane cab
- Making sure all hooks have safety latches
- Using a boom angle indicator
Kuykendall said the most common mistake is, "... improper inspection of all rigging and improper inspection of the loads that you are hoisting." Make sure these inspections are performed properly to ensure safety.
Safe Crew Practices
Keeping your crew and yourself well informed about basic and more complicated safety issues can help maintain everyone's safety on site. You can also consider:
- Screen crane operators to ensure their experience is up to par.
- Utilize a certified crane operator when the crane is in use.
- Communicate with those that will be near the crane before, during and after a lift to ensure everyone's safety.
- Before lifting, come up with a plan for those who will be impacted by the lift.
- Operate the crane on good footing, as instability can lead to serious injuries and damage.
- If you have any questions or feel unsure about a lift, delay the task and ask someone with more experience to assist you.
- Stay up to date with the latest crane safety rules and conduct employee safety seminars on a regular basis.
- Ensure that crane operators are taking breaks, are well rested and are alert during crane use.
Equipment Safety Tips
Taking good care of your equipment is the first step to ensuring the safety of its users. Kuykendall said it's important to "... have the proper rigging to match the weight of the load you are hoisting and to stay in the parameters of the weight limit of your crane." Keep the additional following equipment safety tips in mind:
- Keep the crane well lubricated.
- An annual crane inspection should be carried out by a certified professional prior to using the crane and after the crane has been used.
- Keep records of crane inspections.
- Check the crane daily for damage prior to using.
- Only use the crane for its intended purpose and know your particular crane's limits.
- Never store anything on the crane.
- Fix issues with the crane right away and notify crane operators to hold off on using the crane until further notice.
Caring for Your Crane
Taking good care of your crane can save you time and money. Maintain your crane based on the manual that accompanied it during purchase. This may require a twice a year inspection, or a daily inspection depending on its use, and how frequently it is operated. Be mindful of operating the crane in harsh weather as it can impact the ground stability as well as the ability of the crane to do its job in a safe manner.
If you own or operate a crane, keep in mind risks and safety when using heavy construction equipment. If you have questions or concerns about the safety of your crane or the competency of your crane operator, do not hesitate to take action. One mistake can lead to irreparable damage and possibly death. OSHA provides helpful resources, videos, and training programs that can assist you or your employees with maintaining the safest working environment. You can also check out:
- North American Industries for safe crane operating techniques
- DICA for crane setup techniques
- Local crane repair company for various questions related to crane damage and use
If you are operating a crane or work on a construction site where a crane is being used, be sure to follow your company's basic safety tips, as well as OSHA's recommendations. Being mindful of a few simple rules can help prevent serious crane related injuries and deaths.