Cranes play an essential role on a construction site. They are used to lift and move materials around the site, reducing manual labor and construction time. However, incorrect crane lifts can lead to devastating accidents and injuries. Common accidents during crane operations include:
Breaking of boom sling
Collision with other objects
Touching power lines
Crane operation accidents occur every year, costing labor, money, and time. Nevertheless, taking the first steps to understanding crane safety can reduce accidents and keep construction sites safe.
Roles and Responsibilities
Crane safety stretches from inspection to actual usage, involving several people with their own roles and responsibilities. These include:
Competent Examiner – Responsible for routine examinations of the lifting equipment (gears or appliances). This person is a registered engineer within a relevant discipline, appointed by the employer or owner of the lifting equipment, and has practical experience.
Crane Operator – Responsible for operating the crane in a correct and safe manner, conducting functional tests prior to use on a project. This person must be at least 18 years old, hold a crane operating certificate, and be familiar with operation hand signals.
Slinger – Responsible for attaching and detaching the load to and from the crane in use. This person must have had proper training on safe lifting procedures, be able to select the lifting gear most appropriate for the load, and work with the crane operator to direct the crane.
Signaller – Responsible for communicating all hand signals from the slinger to the crane operator. This person must have had proper training on safe lifting procedures and be able to direct the movement of the crane.
With each person’s role defined, the next step is understanding the safety related to the use of the crane. This involves understanding the crane’s components and the risks associated with them.
Lifting Gears – Used to tie loads tightly and hang them to the crane. Several lifting gears are available to use, and the incorrect choice can result in accidents. To reduce accidents, lifting gears must be examined and have their Safe Working Load (SWL) indicated.
Wire Rope Slings – Used to lift the specified load. Wires need to be equipped with a thimble and have their Safe Working Load indicated. To reduce accidents, rope gears should not be used if they contain broken wires, kinks, or bird cages.
Cable Clip – Used to keep together the ends of the Wire rope that form the thimble. To reduce accidents, ensure that a minimum of 3 cable clips are used, the distances between the clips are the same, and the direction of installation is correct (based on the live end and U-bolt on the dead end).
Chain slings – A series of chain rings used as an alternative to wire rope slings. To reduce accidents, ensure the rings are not bent, stretched, cut, or cracked.
Shackles – To reduce accidents, ensure the pin is locked, hasn’t been tampered with (replaced, loosened), and is attached to the hook.
Eye bolts – To reduce accidents, ensure the hook is not fixed directly onto the eye bolt, the angle of lifting the bolt doesn’t exceed 45 degrees, and the slings aren’t strung through.
Hooks – To reduce accidents, all hooks need to have safety latches, be installed with swivels, be of the appropriate size, and be maintained in a vertical position.
Spreader beams – Used to lift long loads. To reduce accidents, ensure each contact point to the load doesn’t exceed the Safe Working Load and that the spreader beam’s weight is included in the lift load.
Understanding the load the crane will be lifting is just as important as understanding the crane itself. To minimize load risks, the following steps should be taken before attaching the load:
Understand the load’s shape and weight
Plan the travel path and check for obstructions
If load is loose, pack in appropriate containers before lifting
Use 4 slings on the load to prevent inclining
Determine the load’s center of gravity. This should be kept directly below the main hook
Use corner pads if the load has sharp edges
Check wind conditions (can cause the load to move)
Check operator visibility