Crane operation can be extremely dangerous. However, because many industries rely on cranes to get work done, it is important the employees working with or around cranes learn how to use them as safely as possible. Specific employee training is essential, but here is a brief overview of what you need to know about safe crane operation:
First and foremost, it is important to understand how load capacity comes into play. Every crane manufacturer prepares a load chart for crane operators. This chart will tell you how much weight the crane can handle - and it varies according to angle, stability, and more. Before each lift, it is important to calculate the weight of the load and adjust crane settings properly.
Before each lift, there are other safety precautions you should take as well if you are operating a crane. These include the following:
- Testing the hoist and the upper limits switch
- Making sure that other employees cannot walk into the swing radius
- Checking outriggers to see if they are stable and set up properly
- Creating a plan if you'll be lifting loads classified as "critical" (ie, they are very heavy, at an awkward angle, require two cranes, etc.)
In addition, it is important to comply with federal regulations on age limits. According to the law, you must be at least 18 to operate a crane, assemble/disassemble the crane, or otherwise be involved with crane maintenance. There are some construction and manufacturing jobs that might be suitable for workers aged 16 and 17, but those involving cranes are not included on that list. So, only adults (and furthermore, only trained adults) should work with cranes. You can read more about child labor laws at this website.
It is not just the crane operator that needs to understand crane safety. If you’re working on a construction site or other job site that uses cranes, you should understand safety tips to help you avoid injuries while at work. Some of those tips include never working under a crane that is operating, being alert for crane problems like tipping, complying with all OSHA regulations if you help set up the crane, and going through training if you are going to help disassemble or move the crane.
One of the most important aspects of crane safety is electrocution. Because cranes reach high into the air and generally have a wide radius, it is possible for them to come into contact with power lines. OSHA has very clear guidelines about how far you must be away from power lines, which you can read about here. It is important to not just follow these guidelines, but also to be alert for potential problems. If the crane operator cannot clearly see power lines, someone else should be designated to do so.
This is just a brief overview of safety tips surrounding the use of cranes in the workplace. While these large pieces of equipment can be dangerous, most of the deaths and injuries that occur could have been avoided with a little precaution. For more in depth information, talk to your employer or a crane accident lawyer and review the information found at the NIOSH website on crane safety.