Cranes are tremendously powerful pieces of equipment that make it possible to lift heavy loads on construction sites. That said, cranes are also potential hazards, as both cranes themselves and the loads they carry can cause harm when improperly handled. Safety is always our most important value at Cox & Company. We don’t perform any work until AFTER safety is addressed and everyone on the jobsite is prepared.
Our team recently performed a complex crane lift for a laboratory build-out that involved installing a 15,000lb air handler through a removed window on the side of a multi-tenant office building. With very little room for error, proper planning was critical. Our team used advanced modeling technologies to map out every detail of the crane lift, including exact measurements and angles of the lift, to ensure no damage to the building or equipment.
All crews involved completed mandatory proper crane safety and fall protection training. The Site Safety Manager was onsite for the lift to ensure everyone was wearing proper PPE and following safety guidelines.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CRANE SAFETY
Crane and rigging safety is essential on the jobsite. Any size of load can be dangerous, whether it’s 5,000 or 50,000 pounds. A common issue is capacity; if a crane is lifting an object it’s rated for, proper measures such as setting outriggers must be taken. Otherwise, the machine can become unstable and tip over, potentially harming or killing operators or any workers in the way.
Safety-related accidents not only cost construction companies in terms of injuries, property damage, and equipment loss; they can also result in stiff regulatory fines. Lawsuits by injured workers and their families can cost millions of dollars, but injuries, lawsuits, and harm to a company’s reputation are major factors to consider as well.
Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards must be followed by all crane operators and worksite laborers near cranes and related equipment. These range from safety inspections to proper grading, to use of crane mats, pads, and blocking. All operational and safety training must be provided in accordance with the most current standards. Learn more about OSHA Safety Standards Here!
HOW TO KEEP YOUR CONSTRUCTION PROJECT SAFE
To avoid safety issues at the construction site, the following elements must be in place:
- Safety plans: Proper risk assessment and a safety plan before starting a project are key to reduce site hazards. This plan should be under constant evaluation and updated if necessary.
- Certified personnel: Includes an operator familiar with the crane model, its functions, characteristics, and limitations. Operators are responsible for safety as soon as they begin lifting a load, and to log all machine problems in writing. Crane owners must verify the safety of equipment and those operators are capable. They must ensure all jobsite personnel are experienced and properly trained.
- Communication: There should always be a line of communication between crane operators and other workers. This is especially critical during lifting. You can use hand signals, radios, or air horns; if signaling by hand, make sure all workers are familiar with what every signal means.
- Plan ahead: The circumstances are different every time a load is lifted. Always review weight load capacities and crane and equipment limitations, equipment integrity, and other factors such as wind speed and direction.
- Anticipate swing: Every crane has a swing radius—or the arc in which the boom and counterweight travel. When the radius is identified, close off an area equal to this to create a control zone, so no unauthorized people are put in danger. Also, establish a plan for avoiding known obstacles on the job site.
- Proper use: Aside from load limits and other factors, workers also need to consider how they use equipment from the crane service company. Never use cranes to lift people, and never use a crane as a storage tool.