According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, countless contraction and industry works are injured or killed every year due to mobile cranes that tip over, collapse, or otherwise fail due to uncontrolled loads.
They’ve published an extensive list of safety tips online here, but if you will be operating a crane on the job, it is important to understand the dangers of crane overloading and how overload protection systems can keep you safe.
The safest kind of crane you can operate is one manufactured in the past few years with a computerized load-moment indicator, or LMI. The job of the LMI is to stop the crane if the load is too heavy or imbalanced, with could cause crane collapse or tipping over. Most LMI systems have both lights and sounds to indicate when a crane has been overloaded. LMI systems can come in very handy, but the worker running the crane can also override them manually. Above all, crane safety starts with in-depth employee training and operation guidelines, along with clear consequences for operating a crane unsafely.
OSHA (the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety & Health Administration) has reported in the past that overloading accounts for 4% of crane deaths every year (You can read more about that here). While 4% doesn’t seem like a lot, when you take away the two leading cause – electrocution and crane assembly/disassembly problems – you’ll find that overloading accounts for almost one out of every ten injuries. In addition, many of the other sited causes (such as boom collapse or crane upset), may have stemmed from problems with overloading. Overloading can injury not just the worker operating the crane, but also anyone on the ground, even people who are considered to be in safe working distance from the crane. As proposed by OSHA, better training and certification can help prevent overloading accidents.
Even if your crane does not have an LMI system, it must have a capacity plate so the crane operator can see the safe load restrictions. Remember, this will change as the heigh and angle of the load chances. The University of Washington has published a very helpful guide to crane safety, which can be found online here. This guide includes, on page 11, information about LMI, capacity plate laws, and boom angles. You should also read more about your crane’s specific overloading systems in the crane user manual.
Remember, it is the joint responsibility of the worker and the employer to ensure that everyone stays safe on the job site. While an employer must ensure that cranes are up to standard and include overload protection systems, workers must also take measures to follow safety guidelines. If you’re injured on the job due to an employer’s negligence or unwillingness to comply with national crane safety guidelines, talk to a crane accident lawyer right away. However, for your own safety, even if your employer doesn’t provide training, make sure you do some research on crane overloading dangers if you’re going to be operating a crane while at work. Your life is worth the effort.