Know the limitations when using a crane

By Jeff Heiser

The world of construction is fast paced. Contractors strive to complete their projects quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality or safety. Mobile cranes are versatile and powerful pieces of equipment that can help contractors reach those goals by moving materials and equipment great distances and placing them in hard-to-reach areas.

Whether a contracting firm owns or rents a crane or has a crane present on its jobsite, no lift should be treated as routine. There is always potential for death, injury, property damage, interruption of business and the effects of bad publicity.

Accident risk is present from the time the crane leaves the storage yard to the time the job is over – and at every stage in between: in transit, during assembly and setup, during use and throughout disassembly.

Avoid crane accidents and complete lifts without incident by adhering to recognized best practices:

  • Carefully plan all anticipated lifts before construction begins, taking into account weight of loads, maximum height of lifts and maximum radius of lifts. Consider using a crane scale.
  • Properly train and qualify riggers to ensure they can calculate safe rigging loads.
  • Thoroughly evaluate the site to assure or make preparations for adequate ground support. Engineered site work may be needed.
  • Follow regulatory and manufacturer requirements for regular inspections and make any needed repairs.
  • Obtain a copy of the annual and most recent monthly inspections for nonowned cranes prior to permitting them on your jobsite.
  • Ensure that contract stipulations and insurance coverages for nonowned cranes are reviewed by qualified legal counsel.
  • Understand the manufacturer’s notes for lifting capacity deductions such as concrete bucket use, clamshell use and wind effects.
  • Plan for and procure the quality and quantity of blocking, cribbing and fabricated mats necessary to achieve adequate ground support.
  • Determine Stop Work conditions such as wind, changing ground conditions and other hazards.
  • crane_safety_graphicClick for larger image.

    Ensure tires are properly inflated.

  • Properly secure the crane and equipment and engage the house lock prior to transport.
  • Conduct site evaluations at least daily once work begins.
  • Ensure that cranes and outrigger floats are properly leveled and periodically checked for levelness. Most load charts require cranes to be perfectly level. More than 1 percent grade is not permitted.
  • Use properly trained, qualified and certified operators, riggers, signal persons, crane inspectors, lift directors and spotters. Appoint alternates for each position.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and load charts for all lifts, and calculate deductions.
  • Calculate and know the load before EVERY lift for all expected radii and boom angles.
  • Take appropriate precautions when working near power lines. De-energize or ground if possible. Insulating does not fully protect workers. Know safe working distances and use trained spotters.
  • Be sure all personnel know Stop Work conditions and give key personnel Stop Workauthority.
  • Perform manufacturer-specified maintenance and inspections, including warning and safety devices/sensors. Report all defects and wear.
  • Thoroughly inspect all rigging/lifting devices and related hardware per manufacturer instructions.
  • Immediately disable or red tag damaged, defective or worn rigging. Do not allow “homemade” or nonengineered rigging to be used.
  • Stay ahead of weather conditions that could result in Stop Work.

Cranes are engineering marvels capable of performing incredible lifts. But each crane has limitations. The key to preventing accidents with cranes lies in knowing and respecting those limitations, planning carefully, and having the courage to stop work and adjust the plan whenever necessary.

We look forward to working with you.
Thank you for considering Hediger & Meyers