Awareness and Preparation: Key Components to a Safe Crane Operating Environment

Safety is a primary concern when it comes to working on any construction site; and most importantly when operating a crane lift, amid other workers, equipment, buildings, power lines, and natural elements, such as lakes and rivers.


Various obstacles on the construction site can make crane operation much more difficult, but with properly trained operators, following strict guidelines and procedures, the crane operator does their job safely and efficiently.


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), along with OSHA, have established recommendations for crane operators working near power lines and on busy construction sites. These recommendations should be followed by supervisors, managers, and all workers on a construction project using cranes and lifts.


NIOSH work practices for crane operators working near power lines include:Safe Crane Operation New England AstroCrane


  • Operating the crane at a much slower pace when near overhead power lines.


  • Being very cautious when driving on uneven ground. This could cause the crane operator to lose control of the crane and hit power lines, buildings and other area equipment.


  • Making sure that all other workers in the area are out of the way when a crane operator is working near overhead power lines.


  • Keeping all workers from touching the crane itself, until the crane operator is completely away from all power lines, and the crane operator signals that it is safe.



The conditions of the ground area can vary on construction sites, and it is crucial to the safety of everyone working on the site, that crane operators are cautious and aware of ground conditions and other obstacles in their surroundings.


OSHA requirements and safety precautions that should be taken to ensure everyone’s safety when dealing with uneven grounds, wet soil, or operating cranes near or over bodies of water include these rules:


  • The crane operator should be well aware of the conditions of the grounds, so that they can operate the crane accordingly. Rocky, uneven soil, trenches, water, and underground utilities, can make the crane unstable and cause accidents. Awareness before operating is key.


  • When using mobile cranes on water, for example, lifting a load that it is on a barge may also cause the barge to lift and the load to swing. A crane operator must expect and compensate for a swinging load by making sure that the area is clear of other equipment and workers.


  • According to OSHA, if using a crane on wet land, or near puddles of water, for safety purposes, the land should be drained if possible. If operating on marsh lands, or near lakes and streams, the OSHA land draining requirements do not apply, but cranes should be properly supported, with the use of mats, blocking, cribbing, and marsh buggies, if working on marsh land.

Taking steps to survey the land and surroundings before assembling and operating a crane, on each construction project is the most important step towards safe operation. Preparation is a vital component. Knowing what supporting equipment will be needed ahead of time creates a safe and efficient work environment for crane operators and everyone else on the construction site.