In an industry such as ours, employees utilize cranes to move large, heavy loads on a daily basis. While cranes increase capacity and production at the work site, they can also pose potential safety hazards. Below are tips to working safely with and around this type of equipment.
Only trained certified operators to the current API standard are allowed to operate cranes. Before lifting any loads, the operator should complete a pre-use inspection of the crane. This inspection allows the operator to perform function checks and ensure that the crane is in a safe working condition before engaging in lifting activities. The inspections should be documented and any items found deficient should be noted and reported (follow site procedures for reporting and maintenance). In the inspection you should look to ensure:
- Controls are labeled and in good working order
- Safety features are in place and functional (i.e. anti-two block devices, limit switches, boom angle indicators, lifting capacity placards, etc.)
- Hoses are in good condition and free from damage
- Wire rope and lifting block/hook are in good condition and free of damage
- Crane functions such as hoisting and booming up and down are working, as well as the swing function
- Visual of the crane boom is normal and free of damage
Each location has its own crane safety policy, familiarize yourself with the policy and pre-use inspection. Ensure that you comply with the rules of the site, and remember that you have the right and responsibility to stop work that is unsafe.
After your pre-use inspection is complete and you have deemed the crane fit for use, you may proceed with lifting operations. Before lifting however, the operator should inspect and be aware of the following information:
- The weight of the intended load to be lifted
- The type, size and configuration of the rigging being applied. Has it been inspected and is it fit for purpose
- The lifting points are rated for the load, inspected and in good condition
- The final location of the load once lifted and the path of travel. This is important to ensure no lifting overhead, SIMOPS are identified, and signalman is positioned for safe operations.
- Weather should be checked for safe operating conditions before lifting
The operator should not lift the load if it is not rigged properly, if the rigging is not in capacity, center of gravity was not achieved or for any other reason the operator deems necessary. The operator has final responsibility and should stop any work that they deem unsafe. A JSA (Job Safety Analysis) should be completed and reviewed by all parties involved prior to making any lift.
Lifting operations that involve personnel are more critical than lifting material loads, and should be treated as such. Follow the site specific procedures for safe lifting of personnel. Only certified and trained operators may operate a crane. Before lifting personnel you should:
- Ensure proper communication between the operator and crew being lifted
- Confirm that all required documentation is complete
- Check weather for safe operating conditions
- Ensure that proper rigging is attached, inspected and fit for purpose to the personnel lifting device
- Inspect personnel lifting device to ensure that it is in good condition
- Make certain all personnel are set and ready for lifting
Cranes are a great tool that minimize personnel exposure for lifting, increase capacity and production at the work site, but can also be dangerous if not operated safely. We must remain committed to the safe operation of cranes at the work site. Any crane operation deemed unsafe should be stopped. Remember you have the right and responsibility to stop work that is unsafe.