Cranes are the most effective and efficient way to lift and move heavy loads in construction, manufacturing, marine industries, and other material handling operations. However, the larger the load, the higher the risk involved and consequently the safety concerns.
Crane safety is an integral part of any crane operation and must be taken seriously. To ensure safety while operating the crane, fully train and educate your employees and provide all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they require; keep your equipment maintained and repaired regularly; and perform pre-job assessments to mitigate any inherent risks.
Discover useful tips and indispensable advice on crane safety when you partner with Stratalign. Learn what precautions and control measures you need to implement to help you prevent accidents in the workplace and safeguard your workforce.
Why is Crane Safety Important?
Cranes are dynamically designed to lift and manoeuvre heavy loads. There are many components to consider when operating a crane and if, at any point, proper precaution is not taken, this heavy machinery can pose a significant risk to any workers, bystanders, or property within the vicinity.
Crane safety is an integral component of any crane operation. The nature of a crane’s function exposes it to many possible opportunities to fail, and it only takes one failure to compromise the safety of the people and property nearby. Thankfully, a number of safeguards are also built in, and when used in a safe and responsible manner, cranes are a safe and reliable means to move heavy materials and streamline any operation.
What are the Risks in Crane Lifting?
There are a variety of risks involved with crane management that occur when unsafe or negligent working practices are involved. When you use a piece of equipment on a daily basis, it’s easy to become complacent and get into bad habits. and following regular and consistent safety precautions for your crane could be the difference between life and death.
It’s vital for all crane owners and operators to be aware of the hazards your crane system can pose and what steps you can take to reduce your risk and ensure safety across the workplace. Negligence with crane safety can result in injuries, costly damage to buildings and materials and even fatalities.
What are the Main Causes of Crane Accidents?
Many cranes, especially some of the largest in operation that are used to construct skyscrapers and other large structures, require on-site assembly. Regardless of their size though, assembly and installation of any crane needs to be conducted in the safest manner possible to avoid possible on-site accidents.
After ensuring a crane is properly assembled and installed, some of the main causes of crane-related hazards or accidents include:
Poorly secured or shifting loads are one of the most common and dangerous hazards when working with overhead cranes. To avoid falling loads, ensure your employees are adequately trained, secure the load firmly, and carry out routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs.
Around half of all crane accidents occur as a result of metal crane parts coming into contact with a power source such as a high voltage power line. Anyone touching the crane or those in the vicinity are at extreme risk of electrocution and possibly even death. Carry out pre-job planning and risk assessment to identify electrical hazards in order to avoid this potentially deadly scenario.
The most common reason for structural failures in crane operations is overloading. When a crane's capacity is exceeded, it is subject to structural stresses and may cause irreversible damage. This risk is increased when loads are subject to swinging or sudden drops, increasing the dynamic stresses on the crane’s components. Avoid this by hoisting loads within the crane's capacity, inspecting, maintaining, and repairing equipment, and using the crane as it is intended to be used, including avoiding side-loading a boom.
How is Safety Maintained when using the crane?
Crane safety starts with maintaining constant awareness and adopting good safety habits. Take the appropriate precautions by educating and empowering your workforce which will serve to minimise the risks to both your personnel and your property.
Train all employees to be competent and knowledgeable with safety standards and hazard prevention. As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to provide appropriate health and safety training so that your employees can carry out their workload competently with minimal risk to themselves, their colleagues, the machinery, and their space.
Training not only increases workplace safety, but it will also increase job satisfaction and company profitability through the reduction of injuries, accidents, and damage to property.
Maintenance and repairs
Carry out routine maintenance on all on-site equipment at appropriate intervals to ensure your machinery is in a safe working condition. This reduces the need for future repairs that may become more costly, especially if the equipment is compromised to the point that it causes accident or injury to personnel or property.
You must ensure clear warnings and relevant hazard signs are displayed on-site in all danger zones to warn employees of potential hazards. Carry out extensive orientations for employees to ensure they know and understand these signs and are completely aware when they are entering a danger zone.
Personal Protective Equipment
Ensure all your employees have access to and use the appropriate PPE while working in hazardous zones. This includes foot, head, and eye protection along with any other PPE you may have identified in your risk assessment.
How can we Prevent Crane Accidents?
In addition to the above, other things you can do to ensure the safety of your employees include:
- Informing employees not to stand under crane systems in any circumstances, nor should an operator lift a load above a colleague to avoid accidents from falling loads.
- Ensuring they know, understand, and comply with lifting procedures and regulations according to the Approved Code of Practice for Cranes
- Ensure a supervisor is present on site at all times while cranes are in operation.
- Strictly enforce and make sure all your employees are aware of your load and lifting capacities.
- Conduct pre-job assessments wherever possible to identify any risks and ways to mitigate them.
What is a Crane Load Test?
A crane load test is performed to verify that your crane will safely perform the entirety of its functions while carrying a test load with a weight that is equal to or greater than the equipment’s rated capacity.
When you’re load testing your crane the load must be 110% of the equipment’s rated capacity unless otherwise recommended by the original equipment manufacturer. The weight of the load itself needs to be certified prior to testing and each phase of the function should be dynamically tested. All of the findings in the load test and reports should be kept on file during the lifetime of the equipment.