The Role of the Lift Director in Safe Crane Operations

A good lift director is a natural leader, a person others will trust and follow who is not afraid to make informed decisions and stand behind them. It’s someone reliable and dependable who has the work experience necessary to ensure safe rigging and lifting operations.

Let’s take a look at the person who oversees lift operations.

It All Starts with OSHA

If you work with cranes, you are familiar with OSHA 1926.1432, which covers multiple-crane/derrick lifts. One role designated by these supplemental requirements is that of the lift director. The OSHA rule simply says the following:

“The multiple-crane/derrick lift must be directed by a person who meets the criteria for both a competent person and a qualified person, or by a competent person who is assisted by one or more qualified persons (lift director). The lift director must review the plan in a meeting with all workers who will be involved with the operation.”

Lift directors used to be more commonly called “lead persons” on a rigging crew. The OSHA designation of the title, while not saying much, gives them authority to take corrective actions when reviewing a lift plan. In most cases, the lift director accepts greater responsibility than the site supervisor and crane operator for the job. However, in some situations, the site supervisor and the lift director may be the same person.

Designating lift directors for your projects will ultimately save lives by assuring an experienced person carefully supervises every lift and has proper authority to make required changes when a safety issue arises. OSHA enforces the requirement that a lift director be named and levies penalties for non-compliance. The lift director could even have criminal charges brought against them in the event of a serious accident, so it’s a role those of us in the industry do not take lightly.

So What Does the Lift Director Do?

According to The American Society of Mechanical Engineers protocol B30.5, a lift director’s responsibilities include the following:

  • Halting crane operations if alerted to unsafe conditions
  • Warranting area preparations are completed before crane operations commence
  • Confirming necessary traffic controls are in place
  • Ensuring workers understand their responsibilities and the associated hazards
  • Appointing signal people and ensuring they meet the applicable requirements
  • Allowing crane operations near power lines only when applicable requirements are met
  • Implementing precautions for special lifting operations, such as multiple crane lifts
  • Ensuring rigging is performed by competent personnel
  • Guaranteeing the load is properly rigged and balanced

Also, OSHA requires that lift directors are both competent and qualified—or a competent person assisted by at least one qualified person—when performing multiple crane lifts.

For example, H. Brown, Inc. hires highly trained, NCCCO-certified crane operators to execute jobs safely. NCCCO stands for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators and is a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop effective performance standards for safe crane operation to assist all segments of general industry and construction.

Our clients in Louisiana and around the Gulf South benefit from this training and expertise, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing their lifts are being handled properly is a valuable offering that keeps our clients coming back to us, job after job.

How Does One Become a Lift Director?

Taking the (NCCCO) Lift Director Exams is the first step towards a career as a lift director. But first you’ll need to learn to formulate a series of lift plans based on multiple scenarios. You’ll need to be able to solve a variety of problems, from hazard recognition and risk assessment to load travel path and personnel placement.

The fastest way to prepare might be Industrial Training International’s Lift Director & Critical Lift Planning Course. This three-day program covers site set-up, lifting operations, rigging decisions, load charts, rigging capacities, Load Handling Equipment (LHE) placement and other critical lift planning elements. The Critical Lift portion of the course focuses on the process of assessing risks, the compilation of crane and rigging data, crane operating areas, rigging methods, a safety checklist, personnel competencies and assignments, a proposed sequence of events and contingency plans.

Crane Institute of America has a Lift Director training course as well. They’re located in Florida, but they may have a training partner that’s closer to you.

If you’re interested in learning more, the responsibilities of a lift director are designated in 29CFR1926.1400 (OSHA), ASME P30.1 (Lift Planning) and ASME B30.5 (Mobile and Locomotive Cranes). Or, as always, you can reach out to the trained professionals at H. Brown, Inc., and we’ll help you with your questions about cranes, rigging and planning successful lifting and hoisting operations.

Contact H. Brown

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Eunice, LA 70535

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