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What to Know About Operating a Crane in a Congested Area

What to Know About Operating a Crane in a Congested Area

Whether it is a construction project in tight downtown streets, in between busy highways, or that has bustling public areas nearby, getting work done in congested areas always comes with its own unique set of challenges.

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. 

The Dangers of Crane Operations in Congested Areas

From damage to adjacent buildings, moving or parked cars, and the risk of hitting individuals, when it comes to crane operation, there’s a lot that can go wrong when operators and crew members are not adequately trained in safety protocols or if site safety, planning, and maintenance are lacking.

If you find yourself facing a construction project that needs a crane in a congested area, pay special attention to the following:

  • How the crane will be transported to and around the work-site
  • Safety hazards and no-go zones that may impact lift planning
  • Noise and light pollution, which can pose a risk to effective communication

1. Determine Site Access

Positioning cranes on site can be a delicate balance of safety and being close enough to complete work. One often overlooked aspect of using a crane is getting it on-site in the first place. Review the roads on which the crane will be transported, the gate or entrance to the worksite, and any area where you may need to set up or transfer crane parts (if it isn’t a mobile crane).

You need to ensure that any bumps, rises, and turns won’t impede the crane from moving into or around the site to where it will be placed. In incredibly congested urban areas, it is always a smart idea to schedule crane arrival at the site for a time that avoids any peak rush-hour traffic or special events for the area.

2. Pay Attention to Safety Hazards

One of the most significant hazards to make sure you mitigate is if you are working around power lines. 

If electricity to a line can be powered off, you are required to do so. While it is safer for lines to be unpowered on construction or maintenance sites, this is often difficult or impossible due to the length of time work will take place and the needs of residences and businesses in the area. 

The minimum clearance for any power line is ten feet, but the higher the voltage, the greater the clearance required.

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. Review these designated areas and the crane itself daily before you begin lifts.

3. Identify Stable Ground

Before operating a crane onsite, you need to look at the area where it will be working. OSHA standards for crane operation lay out numerous hazards to look out for and what precautions to take.  

Cranes should sit on firm ground that has been graded and drained for stability. While outriggers add significant balance, they cannot compensate for overly rough or unstable terrain underneath the crane. An unstable setting may cause a crane to tip over.

For tight work spaces inherent to city construction, the available stable ground may be in a suboptimal position for lifts. Take this into consideration when lift planning. You want to make sure your crane site is close enough to perform lifts but far enough that you don’t risk hitting structures or workers and won’t need to risk using a side pull.

4. Communication Is Key

Worksites can get hectic at the height of a project. Add in the hustle and bustle of working in a downtown, urban, or otherwise congested area, and the amount of potential interference is immense.

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.

Safety First Crane Rental

Communication and proper training are the best tools for operating a crane safely, no matter the location. With over 40 years of moving and operating cranes, Parker’s Crane Service has the experience you need for safe, reliable crane operations no matter where your project is located.

We pride ourselves on safety and our Zero Accident Philosophy and conduct many detailed safety measures when performing a job to ensure that no project carries unnecessary risk. We perform 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’d like more information on how we can help you with your current or planned job.