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What Crane Operators Need to Focus On

What Crane Operators Need to Focus On

The operator is probably the first and most obvious of the personnel you’ll see around cranes. Their primary job is to drive or operate the crane during lifts safely. But that is not all the responsibilities they have on the job site.


Crane operators perform the following tasks before and after lifts:

  • Inspection of crane equipment for maintenance concerns
  • Perform minor maintenance as needed
  • Daily check of ground conditions and proper outrigger pad deployment
  • Verification of safe load limits
  • Communication with other personnel and managers about safety

While crane operators aren’t the only skilled personnel you will need on-site, they are the lynchpin of safe and efficient crane work. OSHA mandates that all crane operators must be nationally certified and then repass certification every five years. But be aware that some states require additional certification and licensure.

What Crane Operators Need to Focus On

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. Engineering and technology advancements make work zones safer, but crane accidents are still one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities.

For this reason, it is essential to make sure your crane operators are staying properly focused on the work at hand and to help them avert any unnecessary risks. So let's take a look at what crane operators need to focus on, common distractions around any job site that can pull attention, and the steps you can take to keep your crane operators and crew focused.

Critical Points of Focus for Operators

Crane operators should be constantly focused on a number of key points while on site.

  • Before they set foot in a crane at the beginning of the workday, they need to vet not only the crane for safe use but also inspect the state of the crane site for new hazards and review lift plans for the day. Ground stability and overhead hazards can change daily and must be reviewed.
  • Over the course of the day, weather and work conditions can change rapidly. Operators need to remain vigilant to changes in weather that may affect the operation and safety of crane lifts.  Severe storms, winds, or rain can often pop up with little notice throughout the year, exponentially increasing the risk of damage or injury on work sites.
  • Once they set foot into the cab, crane operators need to keep a constant eye on-site personnel in the operational lift space and maintain continuous communication with spotters and riggers.

Common Distractions

Worksites can get hectic and loud at the height of a project, and this noise is going to be the core of many distractions. External noise emanating from nearby traffic, other construction equipment, and electronic communication devices can all compound into a distracting cacophony that can cause vital information and warnings to get lost.

Some of the most common safety distractions to combat come from worker burnout; overwork in any job can lead to lowered productivity and increased mistakes. And on construction sites, both can be extreme safety hazards. Burnout can take a few forms when it comes to distractions, such as a worker's desire to eat or drink while on the job, being overly tired, or distractions from mobile devices.

Other situations that distract crane operators from focusing properly can come from environmental hazards. Poor weather can break site lines and make communication difficult. At the same time, extreme heat and cold can make it physically difficult for workers to concentrate on the job.

Practices to Increase Focus

Ensuring your crane operators are appropriately trained and qualified for the job goes a long way toward helping them maintain focus. But there are other steps you can take as an employer and work-site organizer to help support focused work. Step one is recognizing your site's specific risks and then taking appropriate action to negate those risks. 

Here are a few things you can implement to help increase the focus of crane operators and other construction personnel:

  • Provide adequate hearing protection to limit noise distractions.
  • Clearly mark the safe crane operating space. Hazards should be clear and visible, and there should be a distinct area that other workers should stay clear of during lifts.
  • Restrict the use of personal devices while in the cab. This rule should include personal cell phones and music devices but allow essential communication equipment for the job.
  • Allow adequate time and areas for breaks to use facilities, eat, and drink. Just getting up and moving regularly after remaining seated for long periods can help workers focus, but dehydration and hunger can significantly reduce a person's ability to focus.
  • Include a mental check of sorts at the beginning of the day. Workers should be well rested and supported from stressors both from the job and personal situations.
  • Keep the cab in a safe temperature range with heating, cooling, and proper ventilation.
  • Give them proper support workers, including riggers and signal persons with whom they can communicate using hand signals.

Qualified, Experienced Crane Rental Service

Parker's Crane Service has you covered if you need safe, reliable hydraulic truck cranes and personnel in North Carolina and surrounding states. Our fleet is backed by professional staff, a focus on safety, and a Zero Accident Philosophy. 

We pride ourselves on conducting many detailed safety measures when performing a job to ensure that no project carries unnecessary risk. We enact the following for every single job we take:

  • Pre-Lift Job Assessments
  • Daily Risk Assessments
  • On-site Hazard Analysis
  • Routine Management Audits

With a fleet of well-maintained hydraulic truck cranes, we offer not only the best equipment, but can also help with site installation, maintenance, and operation. Our crew is OSHA and MSHA-compliant to ensure your site and crew safety.

Contact us today if you would like to discuss your needs and whether or not our services and equipment will work for your construction project. We provide free on-site quotes and evaluations.