There are many risks that come with operating a factory crane. While there’s no way to entirely eliminate all of these inherent risks, you can and should work to identify and mitigate them as much as possible, for both the safety of workers and the good of your company.
And that’s exactly what a factory crane risk assessment is designed to do.
What is a factory crane risk assessment?
A factory crane risk assessment is the process of identifying all factors that could affect the safe operation of your factory crane.
Crane safety is a shared responsibility, falling on the shoulders of anyone involved in the crane’s operation. The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 says workplace safety is the duty of employers, employees, principals, self-employed persons and equipment operators alike.
That said, the most important people in terms of factory crane safety are the operator of the crane and the plant manager/supervisor who is ultimately responsible for the safety of the entire factory.
Why are factory crane risk assessments important?
Crane systems are designed to lift and shift heavy things. This simple fact makes them one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in any factory. If something goes wrong, your factory, your business, and most importantly your workers can be put at risk.
Risk assessments are a critical tool to help you understand and deal with potential factory crane dangers, of which there are many. Consider the task of lifting a steel universal beam. You need to ensure:
- The crane is capable of handling the weight and size of the beam.
- The awkwardly shaped load is appropriately secured for the lift you’re looking to complete.
- The path that the beam travels is clear of obstructions and potential collisions.
- Lifting, shifting and lowering procedures are followed and completed in the safest manner possible.
Overlooking just a single factor can put workers, the factory, or the crane itself at risk, which is why thorough factory crane risk assessments are absolutely critical.
Common operational risks for factory cranes
To gain a better understanding of what you might be looking for in a factory crane risk assessment, let’s take a look at a few of the more common operational risks relating to these cranes.
A risk assessment for lifting by crane should always begin with the equipment itself. In order to guard against factory crane failure, your machine must be inspected before it is put into service and regularly thereafter. Operators should do a brief safety check before every shift and a visual check of key parts before every lift.
Limited space, restricted visibility, proximity to structures or equipment and the general busyness of factory floors; there are a wealth of opportunities for factory crane collisions. This is particularly in the case of overhead gantry cranes and monorail cranes that move loads over long distances.
You should limit the movement of a factory crane load to ensure it is unable to collide with other permanent structures. It is critical that crane operators check that their path of travel is clear before beginning a lift, and have people helping to ensure it remains clear. Operators should always be scanning their surroundings for possible collisions.
Load drops can be the result of a number of safety issues, including failing hooks or slings, shifting or poorly secured loads, and operator error. Any load falling from height can be particularly dangerous for workers, making overhead crane risk assessments particularly important.
Working Load Limit
If properly installed and operated, no factory crane should ever fail. It’s therefore critical that installation is completed according to rules, regulations and best practices by experienced specialists, and that lifts never exceed a crane’s working load limit (WLL).
How to conduct a risk assessment for cranes
Now that we know the whats and whys of crane risk assessments, let’s look at the hows. As stated by WorkSafe, the ultimate responsibility for crane safety lies with the plant manager/supervisor, as these individuals are responsible for coordinating all health and safety within a factory.
The process of conducting a crane operation risk assessment within a warehouse or factory involves four main steps:
- Identify hazards: What dangers might come with the operation of a particular factory crane? Consider those listed above (equipment failures, collisions, load drops and the working load limit) for all types of cranes (factory overhead cranes, portable cranes, jib cranes and more).
- Evaluate and prioritise risks: Armed with your list of hazards, you should work to gain a better understanding of the specific causes and potential consequences of each, then prioritise your list from the most pressing to the least pressing.
- Implement control measures: Now that you have a deeper understanding of the risks of operating your factory crane, develop and implement measures to mitigate them, including safety procedures for every crane operation.
- Monitor and review control measures: Safety is not something that you set and forget. You should continually monitor the effectiveness of your control measures in search of improvement, and you should regularly review risks to identify new potential hazards.
Factory crane risks and hazards are unique to each factory. Head to the WorkSafe website for more detailed information on risk assessment best practices for factory cranes in New Zealand.
Enabling New Zealand businesses to work smarter, quicker and safer
At Stratalign we take safety seriously, which is why we provide Kiwi businesses with the finest factory cranes possible, along with the knowledge they need to operate them safely, and the after sales support to ensure they stay safe in the long run.
If you’re looking to lift and shift loads efficiently, productively and safely within your factory, get in touch with our expert team today for a no-obligation consultation and quote.