Lifting Expectations: Implementing Safety Training for Crane Operators

When you need to lift or move materials from one place to another, a crane serves as an indispensable piece of equipment at your construction site. Without overhead cranes, large construction projects would be impossible to complete on schedule, but that doesn’t mean you can rush through or ignore safety training to get work done.

While crane safety has improved greatly over the past century, deadly accidents at worksites still regularly occur. The worst part is, most crane accidents are completely preventable. A lack of safety supervision, nonexistent equipment inspections, and zero safety training for workers lead to unnecessary injuries and loss of life.

Some of the biggest accidents involving cranes include equipment collisions, tip-overs, falling objects and electrical disasters. It’s not just crane operators who are at risk — everyone at the construction site and even nearby pedestrians are in harm’s way, so crane safety training is crucial in minimizing the odds of an accident. Read on to learn how to implement thorough and effective training for your construction workers.

Teach the Team About Electrical Hazards

The lion’s share of crane accidents occur when part of the crane makes contact with electrically charged objects, such as power lines. This usually occurs when the crane is moving an object near ground level from one place to another. Anyone within the vicinity of the crane is at risk when a crane makes contact with high-voltage electricity. Hundreds of people die each year because of this hazard, and many more suffer injuries.

The key to preventing these types of mishaps is preparation. It is crucial to have someone in charge of safety operations at your construction site. Too many builders in the past have decided an on-site safety manager wasn’t necessary, only to face disastrous consequences. This dedicated employee must know the construction site like the back of his or her hand. Every potential electrical danger must be accounted for. If there are power sources near the site, they should refer to OSHA regulations for the minimum distance between the crane and the source of electricity. With help from our OSHA crane safety training, this type of preparation will become second nature for everyone on the team.

Stress the Dangers of Falling Materials

When an overhead hoist lifts up heavy materials, it’s important for everyone nearby to remain alert. A crane may lift dozens of materials in the span of a day, but it only takes one improperly loaded hoist to shift the weight of the materials and cause them to fall down onto the people below. No hard hat out there will provide much protection when an object weighing several hundred pounds races to the ground below. The hoist poses a danger, but so does the crane itself. A crane that has been used for many years without proper inspections poses a massive risk of equipment malfunction.

The best way to prevent an accident is with regular equipment maintenance. The hoist should undergo load testing maintenance so the construction crew knows exactly how much weight it can support. Construction workers on the ground should be able to see clearly marked signs that indicate a crane danger zone, and they should avoid these areas while a crane is in use. The vehicular parts of a crane should undergo maintenance at least once a day to minimize the chances of an operator swinging a load off balance. Every person at the construction site plays a role in safety, and implementing a total crane safety strategy will teach each individual what they need to know about falling debris.

Make Overloading Unacceptable

When it comes to cranes, there’s no such thing as experience-based guesswork when determining crane load capacity. There are countless factors to consider when an operator is deciding on the maximum load for a particular day: wind speed, the type of crane in use, hoist durability and load dynamics are just some of the determinants for safe crane operations.

An example of when every factor wasn’t considered for load capacity was during the construction of Miller Park, home of the MLB’s Milwaukee brewers. While the team had calculated load capacity, they forgot to factor in the wind for the day. As a result, the load caused a structural failure. Amazingly, the incident was caught on tape:

The company in charge of construction was forced to pay a total of $500,000 because of the collapse. The biggest tragedy was the loss of human life on that day, as three workers died when the massive crane toppled over.

While no employee can simply guess how much weight a crane can handle, experience and training do make a difference in preparation. It is essential for crane operators to undergo load capacity training so they know how to calculate what their machine is capable of under particular conditions. Practice makes perfect, so following classroom training gives your new crane operators the chance to work alongside a seasoned veteran for a project. It could make the difference between deaths and a job well done.

Improve Crane Safety

One thing all of these crane hazards have in common is the fact that these types of accidents are often preventable. A crane is one piece of equipment you can’t afford to risk workplace safety on, so take action now to create a safer work environment.

Check out our Overhead Crane Safety training program. This course offers thorough guidance for anyone who works with cranes. Every disaster you prevent is a win, so get started today!