For industries, businesses, and facilities that frequently utilize cranes, safety should always be a priority. When used carelessly and improperly, cranes can be a danger to both operators and nearby workers. The risk of injury or death is very real when operating overhead, bridge, gantry, and jib cranes.
From 2011 to 2015, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported 220 total crane-related deaths. Over this five-year period, one-third of all worker deaths involving cranes were to workers in transportation and material moving occupations.
With this data in mind, crane safety should be a paramount pursuit for every facility. Nothing is more important than the well-being your operators and employees.
To significantly reduce the potential for tragic injuries and deaths involving cranes, here are five crane safety tips for your facility.
1. Only Use Certified Crane Operators & Inspectors
While OSHA and other regulatory agencies have established better standards for crane operator and inspector certification in recent years, not all crane operators and inspectors are currently certified. Unqualified crane operators and inspectors greatly increase the risk of injuries and fatalities.
Crane operators without training and certification increase the chances of equipment misuse and crane safety standard violations. Similarly, crane inspectors who have not received certification and formal training are more likely to miss crane defects that could produce a deadly accident. To learn more about crane inspection certification standards, read through our Crane Inspection Certification Guide. When interviewing and hiring, this guide can help you recognize the certification, training, and education that crane inspectors should possess while on the job.
Safety-conscious contractors and owners should seek only to hire properly trained, certified crane operators and inspectors who have passed both written and practical tests from a nationally recognized and accredited certification program.
When interviewing crane operators and inspectors for your facility, you should look for certifications from the National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), the Crane Certification Association of America (CCAA), and the Crane Institute of America. These are currently some of the most recognized and accredited certification programs in the USA. However, there are other respected crane operator and inspector certification programs that exist. If crane operators and inspectors have certifications from organizations you do not recognize, take the time to research the credibility of these certification programs.
2. Regularly Inspect Cranes
Another way to increase crane safety in your facility is to regularly inspect overhead, jib, gantry, and bridge cranes. Hiring certified crane inspectors won’t effectively promote crane safety if you don’t use them on a frequent or even daily basis. Defects and cracks can develop quickly and lead to dangerous accidents. The extreme environments in which cranes typically operate can cause beam and other structural members to lose strength over time and eventually fail.
Schedule regular inspections and your facility will significantly the reduce the risk of accidents due to crane defects and malfunctions.
3. Cranes Should Not Be Left Suspending a Load
Another crane safety tip is never to leave a load suspended without the supervision of an operator. When security is a concern, it is a common practice among crane operators to suspend expensive equipment or materials at the end of the day to keep them out of reach from potential burglars and thieves. This practice, however, is dangerous.
This practice is especially dangerous today because newer material handling cranes are hydraulically operated. A small leak in the system will reduce hydraulic pressure and eventually the boom will drop the suspended load on whatever is below it — employees, buildings, expensive equipment, etc. This could seriously injure or kill nearby employees and destroy expensive property.
Even in the absence of a hydraulic leak, strong winds could cause the load to sway and topple the entire crane. A fallen crane would not only be potentially deadly, but very expensive. Paying for damages and purchasing a new crane could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
To significantly improve crane safety, make sure your operators never leave a load suspended when unsupervised.
4. Implement a Lockout/Tagout Procedure
During inspections and maintenance work, stored energy can cause accidental or unexpected crane movement that can result in injury or death. A lockout or tagout procedure encourages inspectors, technicians, and employees to cut off the power sources for your equipment before performing maintenance or repairs. Lockout or tagout procedures can help mitigate potential accidents in the future and greatly enhance overhead crane safety in your facility.
5. Ensure that Crane Operators Understand the Limitations of Your Equipment
In addition to certification and training, crane operators should understand the operational limitations of the particular equipment used in your facility. Whether you are using an overhead, bridge, jib or gantry crane, operators ought to know the payload capacities and load limits of each crane they use.
Additionally, crane operators should thoroughly read the operations manuals provided by the crane manufacturer.
These five crane safety tips will minimize accidents and better ensure that your facility meets OSHA guidelines and other regulatory standards. To learn more about crane safety and equipment, call or contact Handling Concepts, Inc. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have about the material handling cranes used in your facility.