Precautions to Take When Operating a Construction Crane

safe work practice crane rigger wearing protection helmets giving crane operator hand signal by holding up two hand against each other pointing both thumbs out meant crane boom is good to go Operating a crane is a big deal– if it’s not done properly and safely, it could result in someone losing their life. It could also result in expensive damages to whatever is around it.

Think about this: a crane has the ability to lift an item that weighs thousands of pounds– thousands! And it lifts that item through the air. One mistake and that item could end up where it’s not supposed to go– and you don’t want that.

So what are some crane operation safety tips that can help prevent tragedies?

Qualified Workers

For starters, anyone who operates a crane should be qualified to operate the crane they’re working on– they should have received proper training and earned their certified crane operator license. Training classes teach people how to operate cranes safely, and cover topics like how to avoid (or address) dangerous situations. If a person operating a crane has no prior experience operating a crane, havoc can ensue. If they’re not trained properly, they have no business operating that crane.

Using the Right Machine

Speaking of cranes, it’s also important to use the right crane for the job at hand. Cranes are designed with weight limits such that you wouldn’t use a crane to lift something too heavy if it’s not designed to handle all the weight. If and when you were to overload a crane, it could easily break. You don’t want to “accidentally” drop the load simply because the crane isn’t designed to handle it. A smart crane operator knows and understands crane loading requirements so they choose the right crane for their load(s).

Pre Operation Checklist

construction crane operator going over checklist If you want to operate a crane safely, it’s important to examine the crane before you operate it. Certain things should be checked including gas/fuel levels and the structural/mechanical integrity of the crane and its rigging. Make sure the correct pads/cribbing are in place to support the crane while it’s in operation. Simple things like verifying that hoists, hooks and components on a crane meet operating requirements can ensure a safe lift. Check the chain, too– it should be taut before a lift, and not twisted, frayed or damaged. You don’t want a chain to break during a lift. Meanwhile, do some pre-start checks like checking the condition of your tires, your air reservoir and battery, oil levels, etc. Start the engine to check the pressure gauge, fuel level, turn signals, horn, etc. Also check your anti-two block, the rated capacity limiter, your outriggers, your hydraulic systems, etc. There are at least 40 things a crane operator needs to check before operating a crane.

Crane operators need to familiarize themselves with crane controls, especially if they’re renting a crane and it’s a bit unfamiliar to them. If you bought a new car, you’d figure out what the buttons and switches do before you drive it, right? The same goes for a crane– look for things like the upper limit switch and the power disconnect switch, both of which can be used to prevent emergencies. Read the operator’s manual so you familiarize yourself with load capacities, safety mechanisms, stabilizers/counterweights and, of course, operator controls.

Know the Controls to Be in Control

Besides getting used to crane controls, a crane operator should also familiarize themselves with the job site they’re working at/on. This entails noting the weather conditions (to ensure safe operations) as well as how stable the ground below the crane is, since you want to make sure it can support the crane’s weight, etc. Also, look for nearby buildings, power lines, etc. that could “get in the way” of a lift. When dealing with outriggers, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in order to determine how far to extend them and do not place them over unsteady ground. Use outrigger pads (crane pads) underneath outriggers, too.

Tunnel Vision

Just like distracted driving can cause accidents on highways, distracted crane operators can cause accidents at job sites. Therefore, crane operators need to concentrate on the job at hand, and remove distractions such as cell phones, food, drinks and cigarettes. Imagine this: an operator is smoking and the cigarette ashes fall on their lap and burn them, and they’re distracted and they “accidentally” move the crane in a direction it’s not supposed to go and someone gets killed- yeah, it happens. A crane operator cannot afford to make mistakes when operating heavy machinery where people’s lives are at stake.

When crane operators do their job well, items get moved and lifted just fine and no one gets hurt. Safety is paramount when it comes to crane operations.

Are you thinking of renting a crane to get a certain job done? Rent one from Astro Crane of New England. For more information, call Astro Crane at 978-429-8666.