Crane Safety

Crane operators and their assistants (commonly known as riggers) have to work as a team – and an excellent one at that lest their work end up on YouTube with some awful crane accident. Despite crane operation rules and operator training, things too often go wrong. In our mind, knowledge is one aspect of a “triangle” that helps make for safe and effective crane operation. The other two sides of the triangle are experience and equipment. If you have the wrong equipment or the equipment is not suited for the task, failure can occur. Likewise, operator experience certainly comes in when assessing the terrain and environment too. Some crane accidents occur because of error in placement of the unit and/or failure to account for soil type and other ground conditions. Outriggers can sink into unstable and/or wet soil and the result is probably going to be a tipped crane. Of great importance is pre-job inspection of the crane and components. Also knowing a crane’s load capacity and how that number changes based on distance and angle is critical. Consulting and applying load chart information is an additional important aspect of crane operation. Here are the key things a load chart will tell you:

  1. Lift Capacity –This number represents the maximum lift capacity the crane can handle with the shortest lift and with the outriggers fully extended.
  2. Lift Angle – This is the maximum lift if a fixed or luffing jib is used. A higher angle lowers the lift capacity.
  3. Lift Range – This number tells you how long the boom needs to be to lift a load at a given height and distance.
  4. Dimensions and Weight – means to assess the load being flown for size and weight.
  5. Crane in Motion – This shows the maximum weight a crane can pick up and carry, as well as the weight that can be supported by moving and other capacities.

Besides consulting the load chart, industry standards and the manufacturer’s recommendations, OSHA has guidelines and requirements for crane, derrick, and hoist safety.

We have seen things go wrong in the field from personnel on the ground standing under suspended loads; to riggers trying to heavy maneuver a load with tag lines;  to failing to follow critical lift guidelines; to  operating equipment that has not passed inspection; to having too many “helpers” on the ground giving competing hand signals to the crane operator; to using non-engineered lifting points on objects; to catastrophic crane failures; and more.

When using cranes to fly materials, being hasty and/or unprepared can and too often does result in problematic consequences.  Refresh crane safety rules with your personnel. Ensure that operators and equipment are suited for the task.

As with all of our blog posts, the content is informational only and is not intended as instruction or legal advice.


Skip to toolbar