5 Things You Need to Know About Operating Cranes
Unlike other pieces of heavy machinery at construction sites, your crane will be a mainly stationary piece of equipment. Being stationary doesn’t make operating it any less risky.
Crane accidents can cause property damage that can impact a project’s schedule and cost. At their worst, they can also cause injury or death.
It is a good idea to make sure every worker and manager on the job site knows how to work safely around a crane.
1. Prepare the Site
Before operating a crane onsite, you need to look at the area where it will be working. OSHA standards for crane operation layout numerous hazards to look out for and what precautions to take. Site issues can be part of the site’s terrain or manufactured hazards. Your site supervisor should ensure the area for the crane is prepared correctly for delivery, assembly, and operation.
One of the leading causes of accidents is contact with electrical lines. Make sure dangerous areas are clearly marked out and communicated to your team so that the crane doesn’t go into unsafe areas and that workers don’t wander into the danger zone as well.
Cranes should sit on firm ground that has been graded and drained for stability. While outriggers add a significant amount of balance, they cannot make up for overly rough or unstable terrain underneath the crane. An unstable setting may cause a crane to tip over.
2. Train Your Workers
Technology has made cranes safer to use but also made them more complex. Ensure all machinery workers are qualified. Provide training to employees on overall crane operations, including lifting requirements and load capacities.
An unqualified worker should never operate a crane unless under the direct supervision of a trainer. If you are working with an outside contractor, ensure their crane operators have a Certified Crane Operator license.
Even workers who won’t be operating the crane need to know how to move about the worksite area safely. Ensure all employees maintain proper PPE when in the crane’s vicinity to protect against falling debris.
Additionally, educate workers about using cranes for things other than lifting necessary materials. Cranes should never be used to lift individuals around a site or store tools or equipment. Improper use heightens the risk of falls, crushing, or unbalancing the crane itself.
3. Inspect Crane and Conditions Regularly
When utilizing a crane, make sure to have a site supervisor or other designated qualified worker inspect the crane and site conditions regularly. Job sites can change rapidly, so ensure that no new hazards have entered the crane’s work area. These hazards might range from newly placed power lines to a shift in grading.
Make sure the crane is still in good operating condition with daily machinery inspections. If an operator speaks up about mechanical issues, have the crane inspected and serviced before putting a load or lives at risk of injury and damage.
Always pay attention to weather conditions that could affect safe crane operation. Heavy rain, high-velocity wind, and sudden freezing temperatures are apparent hazards to safe operation and may put a halt to crane lifts until the weather improves.
A site supervisor should also take steps to ensure proper safety when fog sets in or under artificial lighting at night. Such conditions reduce visibility and put site workers at heightened risk.
4. Secure Loads
While proper crane lifting keeps loads as close to the crane and as low to the ground as possible, you often use them to get things lifted high. Overloading and improperly secured loads can cause significant injury from falling materials or damage cranes under strain.
To mitigate load issues, make sure to measure the weight of every load. You should not exceed the crane’s operational capacity. Loading construction materials from the proper orientation and checking that the loading chain and hooks on the hoist are in good condition will keep it secured. Keep in mind changing weather and site conditions may affect load security and weights. Always err on the side of caution.
Worksites can get hectic at the height of a project. Proper communication can help ensure smooth sailing and minimize the risk of errors. Implement daily check-ins with key personnel, so everyone knows the site’s current state. Have your site supervisor or lift director coordinate communication between the crane operator and other site personnel.
Your operator might be in a fixed position, but it can be challenging to see the entirety of the surrounding area. They’ll need spotters for when they are moving materials, and those around them on the site should be informed when a lift is occurring so they can stay out of harm’s way.
Air horns and radios can serve well in this function, but construction is noisy. Getting workers trained on OSHA hand signals is a great way to keep them communicating accurately through any environment.
6. Get the Right Crane for the Job
No matter the job, using the right tool makes all the difference. Make sure you select a crane that fits your job site requirements for the safest and most effortless experience.
Serving the Carolinas for over 40 years, Parker’s Crane Service can help you get equipped with the right crane for the job. With a fleet of well-maintained hydraulic truck cranes, we offer not only the best equipment but can help with site installation, maintenance, and operation as well. Our crew is OSHA and MSHA compliant to ensure your site and crew safety.