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Mobile Crane Safety: Stability and Tipping

Mobile Crane Safety: Stability and Tipping

Construction sites and industries that utilize heavy equipment can be dangerous places to work if safety isn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind. While engineering and technology advancements have made these work zones safer, crane accidents are still one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities. 

The leading causes of injury and death during crane operations are electrocution or blunt force trauma from being hit or crushed with loads. The third direct cause is cranes tipping over. 


Mobile Crane Safety: Stability and Tipping

Even an unstable crane that remains upright can increase the risk of uncontrolled movements during lifts. At best, this puts the site at increased risk of property damage that can impact a project’s schedule and cost and, at worst, causes injury or death. 

Stability and tipping accidents come down to a few main factors that you can help mitigate, including:

  • Crane Site Preparation and Risk Assessments
  • Pre-lift Safety Checks and Proper Loading
  • Communication and Safety During Lifts

Today we take a look at how to ensure a stabilized crane deployment and prevent tipping during lifts.

Crane Site Preparation and Risk Assessments

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.

Cranes should sit on firm ground that has been graded and drained for stability. While outriggers add significant balance, they cannot make up for overly rough or unstable terrain underneath the crane. An unstable setting may cause a crane to tip over. Ensure your outrigging and crane is stable by checking the following:

  • Outriggers are extended in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications.
  • Support materials have been placed under the crane and outriggers to prevent sinking during lifts.
  • The ground has not been compromised by weather or ongoing construction.
  • Crane maintenance is checked regularly and repaired when needed.

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 due to weather.

Pre-Lift Safety Checks and Proper Loading

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, damage cranes under strain, or cause stability issues. Mitigate load issues that might cause tipping by implementing pre-lift plans and safety checks to ensure the stability issues are addressed:

  • Measure the weight of every load and check the load chart for the crane. Do not ever exceed the chart's load capacity.
  • Test each load a few inches above the ground for capacity and balance before proceeding.
  • Check that the loading chain and hooks on the hoist are in good condition and will keep it secured.
  • Know how boom extension and position will affect crane stability and capacity for the lift.

Keep in mind changing weather and site conditions may affect load security and weights. Always err on the side of caution.

Communication and Safety During Lifts

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 so that they don’t risk hitting people or structures and can be told immediately if the balance begins to shift. 

When performing a lift, make sure that:

  • Safety zones are maintained.
  • There are open lines of communication between the operator and signalers.
  • The lift plan is always followed; if it needs to change, the lift doesn’t proceed.

Any workers in the immediate vicinity of a crane on the site should be informed when a lift is occurring so they can stay out of harm’s way. Keeping people clear of safety zones will help minimize injuries if the worst should happen and a load becomes unbalanced and the crane tips over.

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.

Browse our list of available cranes to see if we have the right crane for your job. And contact our team to discuss any services or equipment we can help you select for your project.