Crane Work Area Safety
Table of Contents:
Maintaining a Safe Working Environment Around Crane Work
Cranes can simultaneously be one of the most useful pieces of machinery while being treacherously dangerous if used incorrectly. Three of the most commonly seen hazards include falling materials, crane overloading, and hitting electrical structures, all of which can be fatal for your workers and your project. Luckily, there are plenty of qualified people and great materials/checklists to ensure worksite safety is upheld.
A successful crane operation opens with pre-start checks regarding the area of operation, the people involved, and the machine itself. Due diligence is conducted to check the crane’s engine and safety system measures prior to the operation. A safe crane operation is also equipped with checks while operating, including aspects like hand signals. After an operation is completed, post-job checks are done to further protect safety. Let’s run through each of these checks in more detail:
Pre-start checks can really make or break an operation; ultimately, preparation equals safety. First, scour the operating area to establish that your crane is safely able to maneuver and pick up loads. Determine how stable the ground conditions are for where your crane will be operating. For all these checks, the Occupation Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) lays out in detail things you must have on site.
For area checks, an example of an OSHA statute is 1910.179(b)(6)(i): Minimum clearance of 3 inches overhead and 2 inches laterally shall be provided and maintained between crane and obstructions (1). OSHA outlines numerous other safety measures as well for the operating area. This includes things like ensuring your crane is stable and able to safely swing to pick up and place a load without interfering with buildings, power lines, or any number of other obstacles that create a hazard.
For your workers, ask yourself whether or not the people working on-site are qualified to operate or work around a crane. OSHA standard 1926.1427 states that the employer must ensure each operator is trained, certified, and evaluated according to OSHA statutes before operating a crane. Having the right people operate the crane drastically increases project success while minimizing the danger of working on-site.
That being said, people working near the crane must also be trained in safety measures. People must know what places and actions to avoid near a crane to stay safe. The workers around the crane must also be adorned with proper safety equipment like a hardhat to protect your head from falling objects.
Naturally, the machine itself also needs a series of pre-start checks to ensure a swift and safe operation. This check includes things that can be found in the operator’s manual like:
- Tire conditions
- Oil levels
- Air reservoirs
- Any batteries
These are things that are easy to keep in working order if they are paid attention to. Neglect will cause a host of problems that can create an extremely hazardous workspace.
Engine Start-Up Checks:
This list is another that contains a lot of information that can be found in the operator’s manual. This document should be easily accessible for the proper personnel. A list of some things to pay attention to in your engine check:
- Pressure gauges
- Fuel levels
- Turn signals
Safety System Checks:
Some additional safety measures are applied to cranes to further protect workers. Among these additional statues includes some technologies that could potentially save your project. First is an anti-two-blocking system, or ATB. Two-blocking refers to when a crane’s hook makes contact with its boom tip, which has the potential to break the host line causing the load to come crashing down to the ground. This is disastrous for the crane, disastrous for the project, and potentially fatal for the workers below. This safety measure is absolutely essential; in fact, an ATB is required by OSHA to be installed on every crane. Operators should check to make sure that the ATB functions properly before conducting any lifts.
Cranes can also be equipped with a rated capacity limiter, or RCL. An RCL provides the operator with audible and visual alarms regarding the load on the crane. This device will calculate whether or not the crane can handle the load at given boom lengths and angles, helping to ensure proper crane usage (3).
Additionally, having other safety measures like outriggers to provide a more solid foundation for your crane to increase stabilization is an essential safety measure. Also, checking the hydraulic system, which is responsible for conducting the actual lift inside the crane, must be checked before any load is lifted. Visually inspecting all components involved in a lift (i.e. the hook, the boom, and the host line) will help protect the safety of the workers on site and protect the project itself.
While Operating Checks:
Let us not forget the checks to perform while operating the crane itself. Under operating checks includes, most importantly, that the crane operator and any surrounding crew members are familiar with the essential hand signals that are needed to smoothly perform a lift. These details must be discussed prior to the lift.
Naturally, during the lift the operation should be under constant observation by qualified personnel to prevent anything catastrophic from occurring. As previously stated, preparation equals safety, so once operations have begun, there is faith that all equipment and personnel can successfully complete the lift. However, unexpected things can and do occur, so all workers and operators must always be paying attention to crane activities during a lift.
Once a crane has finished work for the day, running back over the various safety structures is key for future success. Having multiple sets of eyes inspect the crane at various times increases the chances of discovering any abnormalities or weaknesses in the crane while decreasing the chances of anything going wrong. This also provides time to fix any issue before the next crane operation begins.
Similar to the safety measures, running through the other checks outlined above again will provide reassurance that the crane is ready for another safe lift.
Contact Wilko Industrial for Safe Crane Work Today!
For the safest crane rentals in Central Texas, look no further than Wilko Industrial. Equipped with expert operators, Wilko Industrial knows what crane safety is and can provide the safety assurance to you in a reliable, affordable manner. Together, we can get your operation done while protecting your workers and your project. For the solution to all your lifting needs, don’t hesitate to contact Wilko Industrial today!